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Banks are shutting more branches amid digitalization and pandemic Updated: 2021-01-22 15:07:31 KST

Banks around the world have been shutting branches, as customers shift to online and mobile banking.
Here in South Korea, that trend is also evident, as the pandemic highlighted the need to go contact-free.
Our Eum Ji-young zooms tells us more.
A bank teller greets customers on a big screen at this non-contact bank branch.
"This small room is a so-called 'digitact bank branch' where customers can do their banking services through video call with a bank teller without any physical contact."
Hello, I'd like to open a savings account.
Do you have any particular savings period or interest rate in mind?
"We created this branch as customers prefer non-contact ways of handling their banking business amid the COVID-19 outbreak"
Five major retail banks in South Korea have been shutting down their branches as customers turn to digital banking, but they have removed more than 200 more branches last year as the coronavirus emphasized the need to go contact-free.
Between January and February this year, major retail banks are planning to close another 26 branches.
According to the Bank of Korea in June last year, more than 60 percent of people used internet banking for their transactions and only around seven percent visited banks for face-to-face services.
This is not just happening in South Korea but around the world. HSBC will close 82 branches in the UK this year, saying that 90 percent of its customer contact is through phone calls, the internet or smartphones.
But there are concerns on the impact on jobs.
"Jobs related to banks are seen as decent jobs, but they are disappearing with the closure of branches and elderly people are not familiar with mobile or internet banking."
"People my age have difficulties with technology. And it is very crowded and uncomfortable as the bank branches merge."
To try to slow down the bank closure, the nation's financial watchdog, the Financial Supervisory Service plans to require local banks to submit documents disclosing the reason for shutting down branches.
Eum Ji-young, Arirang News.

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