Banks, in Italy over 4 million people without branches. In less than 10 years, more than 11 thousand branches have closed

The phenomenon of desertification affects 7% of the Italian population, especially in the South (10.7% residents), then in the North (6%), less in the Center (3.2%). Sileoni: “With the disengagement on the territory they are losing their social role”

There are more than 4 million Italians ‘without a bank’, that is the inhabitants of the 3,062 municipalities in which there are no longer branches of credit institutions. Out of a total of 58.9 million citizens, 4,131,416 live in territories where banks are absent, equal to 7% of the total population. Percentage which, among other things, presents conspicuous differences on a geographical basis: if in the North the banking ‘desertification’ affects 6% of the population, in the Center the phenomenon is more limited (3.2%), while in the South and in the islands , where the issue is decidedly more pronounced, citizens who no longer have a banking agency ‘close to home’ or at a limited distance represent 10.7% of residents. This is what emerges from an analysis of the Fabi.

Campania, highlights the union, is the first region for the number of inhabitants without a bank: they are almost 700 thousand. All this is the result of the progressive closure of the agencies by the banks: the branches, 32,881 in 2012, at the end of 2021 were 21,650, down by 11,231 (- 34%). Among the largest regions, the one with the lowest presence of banks, in percentage terms, is Calabria with 28.8% of citizens residing in territories not covered by banking agencies. Then, to follow: Piedmont (13.8%), Abruzzo (12.6%), Campania (12.5%). Among the smaller regions, the record is Molise (37.3%) followed by Valle D’Aosta (33.4%). In the islands, bank desertification affects 6.7% of the population in Sicily and 6.1% in Sardinia.

Emilia Romagna and Tuscany, on the other hand, are the regions that have the highest rate of bancarization in the national territory: the population residing in municipalities without banks, in fact, corresponds, respectively, to only 1.2% and 1.5% of the total. In absolute terms, the region with the largest number of municipalities without banks is Piedmont (713 local authorities, 587,000 inhabitants), followed by Lombardy (483 local authorities, 575,000 inhabitants) and, more distantly, Calabria (280 local authorities, 531,000 inhabitants). ), Campania (280 local authorities, 699 thousand inhabitants), Lazio (179 local authorities, 245 thousand inhabitants), Abruzzo (173 local authorities, 160 thousand inhabitants). In Sicily and Sardinia, the municipalities without inhabitants are 132 (320 thousand inhabitants) and 111 (96 thousand inhabitants) respectively.

As for the demographic dimension, it ranges from insignificant realities, with a few dozen inhabitants, to local authorities with over 10,000 residents (13 overall, 10 of which in Campania): in the list of 3,062 municipalities without banks, the smallest are both in Lombardy, Pedesina (Sondrio) and Morterone (Lecco), and have respectively 30 and 34 inhabitants; while the first in the ranking is Pollena Trocchia (Naples, Campania) with 13,514 citizens who can no longer count on even an agency or a bank at hand. This represents a very significant problem if we consider that in Italy the development of e-banking is still scarce compared to the European average: less than half of banking customers (45%) use digital channels to access banking services, compared to an average 58% and compared to major economic powers, such as Spain and France, which have customer rates accustomed to digital banking equal to 65% and 72%; our country is aligned with realities such as Greece (42%) and Turkey (46%).

The number of closed doors – In less than 10 years, Fabi calculates, Italian banks closed 11,231 branches: there were 32,881 branches at the end of 2012, and then dropped to 23,480 in 2020 and again to 21,650 at the end of 2021. From 2012, the reduction was equal to 34.16%, while between 2020 and 2021 the contraction was 7.79%: in just one year there were 1,830 closures.

Banks too, argues the union, are far fewer: from 706 credit institutions in 2012, they went to 474 in 2020 and 456 in 2021. That means 250 fewer banks (-35.4%) from 2012 to 2021 and 18 fewer, in one year (-3.80%), from 2020 to 2021: the decrease is the result of the progressive aggregation between large groups and smaller banks, driven by the indications of the regulator and supervisory bodies, both Italian and European . The contraction also affected staff: female workers and bank workers were 315,238 at the end of 2012, 275,433 at the end of 2020 and 269,625 at the end of 2021. The net reduction was 45,613 units (-14.47%) between 2012 and 2021 and 5,808 units (-2.11%) between 2020 and 2021.

Sileoni’s comment – “The social role that banks are progressively losing, also through a progressive disengagement in the territories, with indiscriminate and unacceptable closures of bank agencies, is an issue that cannot be underestimated by political parties” and “it is serious that few, all ‘inside the political class, are interested in this problem: they do not care enough with the justification that, being the banks private companies, they are somehow legitimized to do what they want “, says the secretary general of Fabi, Lando Maria Sileoni . But, warns the union leader, “this simplistic thesis cannot be passed, precisely because banks have always taken care of the savings of Italians and should absolutely not transform themselves into simple financial shops, thus drastically reducing advice to businesses and families, without no one intervenes. The reduction of branches is creating and will cause considerable damage to the country and to customers. I refer, in particular, to the elderly, who have little familiarity with digital tools, and to those who live in the South, where not only the phenomenon of the closure of the banking agencies is more marked and worrying also due to an evident problem of access to the internet “, says the secretary general of Fabi.

“The inevitable consequences – continues Sileoni – therefore also bring out a question of an economic nature with a sudden change in the business model, all centered on the sale of financial and insurance products and little or nothing, on the granting of loans, mortgages and credits in general. . In short, we are witnessing a radical change without any financial and political regulator intervening to protect customers and bank employees. The absence of bank branches from the small and medium-sized centers of the country – he adds – also runs the real risk of removing both businesses and families from the legal circuit of finance and credit, with the consequential danger of expelling millions of subjects from the regular economy: it follows that space is left for criminal organizations, usury and all those illegal financial activities that always succeed to take advantage of situations of hardship and economic difficulty “.

“Ours therefore represents an evident cry of alarm – continues the leader of Fabi – supported not only by the numbers, but also by the testimonies of an entire category of banking workers, their daily experiences and the fact that we represent a” public service essential “also decisive for making the country’s economy work in the heavy periods of the pandemic, when, unfortunately, many bank employees lost their lives in the daily exercise of their fundamental activity”, concludes Sileoni.