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China’s Banks Closed 2,500 Outlets in 2021

According to the 21st Century Business Herald, bank outlets in China have been shrinking rapidly. Based on the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission’s statistics, as of December 24, 2021, a total of 2,459 bank outlets of commercial banking institutions ceased operations this year. On December 24, 2021 alone, 29 commercial bank outlets closed their doors. The 21st Century Business Herald attributed the closures to the rapid development of digital technology.

Statistics from the China Banking Association show that, from 2018 to 2020, the number of outlets in the Chinese banking industry declined for three consecutive years, and the number of outlets that closed last year also approached 3,000. These closures include many outlets that had been in business for more than 30 years.

Semi-annual reports of banks also show signs of the decline of outlets. In the first half of 2021 alone, the four major state-owned commercial banks, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China, and the Construction Bank, reduced 187 outlets or branches.

Behind the dramatic reduction in outlets comes the downsizing of bank staff. Comparing the data from the 2021 semi-annual and 2020 annual reports, the number of employees in the four major state-owned commercial banks decreased by 22,355 in the first half of 2021.

The  21st Century Business Herald said that, along with the outlet closures, the ability of banks to absorb deposits has declined significantly. At the same time, office rent, labor, and IT hardware maintenance have also risen due to competition, adversely impacting the profitability of bank branches.

Source: 21st Century Business Herald, December 28, 2021