Banks, the alarm of the Cisl: «A quarter of the Marches without branches And in 2023 more closures are coming»

OBSERVATORY on banking desertification: in the Marches 26% of the Municipalities are without a credit institution, for a total of 54,000 people. While there are 4,200 companies based in a country without banks. The cuts concern almost exclusively rural and mountain areas. The secretary of the First Cisl Mario Raimondi: «On the one hand there is an aging population and does not have the culture to access digital services. On the other hand, branches are closed in small towns and greater damage is produced»

Mario Raimondi, First Cisl Marche secretary

Of Frances Pasquali

A territory as large as Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto combined. Uniting all the Municipalities of Italy without a bank would more or less reach those dimensions. He says it the Observatory on banking desertification promoted by First Cisl, which every three months analyzes the data of the Scientific Committee of the Fiba Foundation. In the general stampede, the Marches fare better than other regions. As at 31 December 2022, in fact, there were 48 bank branches for every 100,000 inhabitants, against the national average of 37. But the closures don’t stop. Last year there were eleven. And, today, more than a quarter of the municipalities in the Marche region (26.2%) do not have a bank branch, for a total of 54,000 people without the service. The cuts concern almost exclusively rural and mountain areas. Small and very small municipalities. Such as Monsano, Belvedere Ostrense, Offagna and Barbara in the Ancona area, Montelupone and Petriolo in the Macerata area, Venarotta and Massignano in the Ascolano area, Campofilone and Magliano di Tenna in the Fermano area and Montecalvo in Foglia in the province of Pesaro and Urbino, all without a bank branch. A “dangerous” situation, for the general secretary of the First Cisl Marche, Mario Raimondi, in a region made up of a few large cities and many small towns, concentrated above all in the hinterland and with an increasingly elderly population.

«The closure of the branches – says the trade unionist – creates difficulties in accessing banking services. For a region like ours, the loss of a physical place creates a big problem. Because the bank is not only a commercial exercise, but also a place of relationship, where a culture of savings, investment and business is created». According to data from the observatory, 54% of the Marches population uses internet banking, i.e. carries out banking transactions on the net, against 48% of the national average. But this – says the secretary of the First Cisl – happens above all in the larger and more developed territories. While in the smaller ones, subject to a depopulation that seems unstoppable and populated above all by the elderly, the counter remains the preferred route».

“The problem is twofold. On the one hand – explains Raimondi – there is an aging population which lacks the culture to access digital services. On the other hand, the banks that close their bank branches in small towns because, since there is a small population, they think they will have less effect, but produce greater damage”.. Bank desertification also creates problems for businesses. In the Marches there are about 4,200 those with registered offices in Municipalities without bank branches. “It means less access to credit or, in any case, more difficult”, summarizes the trade unionist. And the situation is bound to get worse. «In 2023 – explains the secretary of the First Cisl -, we will see the closure of at least ten, including branches and counters, of Banca Popolare dell’Emilia-Romagna and at least twelve of Intesa Sanpaolo. We fear that it is the beginning of a process that will turn the trend of desertification on a risk area that could explode in the current year, leaving half of the municipalities in the Marche without branches. What can be done, then, to reverse the course or, at least, to stem the phenomenon? “Closing companies that make big profits, abandoning territories in difficulty, is the result of a short-sighted policy of industrial concentration”, says Raimondi. “What we can do – he concludes – is to sensitize public opinion to become aware of the situation, but it is politics that must have an impact with a certain “moral suasion””.

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