The Bank of Spain notes that there are 1.3 million people vulnerable in terms of access to cash after the closures of branches

The Bank of Spain considers that the vulnerability of the population in cash access is low in "a large part" of the Spanish territory, but warned that there a

The Bank of Spain notes that there are 1.3 million people vulnerable in terms of access to cash after the closures of branches

The Bank of Spain considers that the vulnerability of the population in cash access is low in "a large part" of the Spanish territory, but warned that there are approximately 1.3 million citizens who are in a situation "which can be considered vulnerable "After the closures of bank branches.

This figure is equivalent to 3% of the population, as detailed in a report published by the Agency this Wednesday, where it explains that the traditional infrastructure of cash access in Spain is "wide" and has a "generalized" coverage, but needs to promote Alternative solutions to ensure access to cash before the "predictable" reduction of offices and ATMs derived from the "increased digitization and the search for greater efficiency by credit institutions."

This conclusion is disclosed in a period of consolidation within the financial sector, "which has intensified a situation whose starting point was less favorable." In recent months, different entities bet by merging their structures to guarantee the economic viability of their business, which gave rise to a series of synergies that concluded with the presentation of employment regulation files (ERE) and the closure of branches.

In this sense, around 340,000 people or 0.7% of the total population live in municipalities with a high vulnerability, considered as such because they lack traditional cash points, the average distance to the nearest cashier is 9, 4 kilometers, the population greater than 60 years exceeds 40% of the total and the available income is below the national average. In general, they are municipalities with an average population of 400 inhabitants.

Among the towns with this risk, the Castellanoleonso provinces of Zamora would appear, where 18.7% of the population would be in this situation of high vulnerability; Ávila (13.6%), Salamanca (10.6%) and Palencia (9.1%).

At that figure of 340,000 citizens would be added another million, residing in municipalities with a vulnerability considered as average by the body in their access to cash. Are municipalities that have 0.6 cash access points for every 1,000 inhabitants, the average distance to the nearest cashier is 3 kilometers, the population percentage greater than 60 years exceeds 35% of the total and the available income is by Under the national average. The average size of these municipalities is approximately 1,700 inhabitants.

This area of average risk is composed of the Galician provinces of Orense, since 27.2% of its population would have such difficulties accessing a cashier; Lugo (26.4%) and La Coruña (7%). Among the three Galician provinces concentrate, in fact, almost 24% of the population considered by the Bank of Spain as average vulnerability. The figures of Zamora (17.1%), cáceres (11.5%) and Ávila (10.2%) are also significant.

On the other side of the coin, Baleares has the greatest coverage of access to cash (with a very low degree of vulnerability in 99.8% of the population), followed by Madrid and Barcelona, with 99.3% and 98.6%, respectively. The best coverage would be, however, the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla since the authors of the report argue that 100% of its inhabitants have adequate access to 'cash' dispensing infrastructures.

According to the organism, these territorial differences are explained in the lowest population density of a region, as well as the orography of the territory. As a consequence of these factors, coverage of the network of offices and ATMs in these areas of the country has been lower and has had to be devised, in part, by alternative solutions, such as financial agents or mobile offices.

The study is done with closed data by 2020, when the number of banking and ATM offices stood at 22,299 and at 49,481, respectively. Since 2008, the number of banking offices has decreased nearly 50% and the total ATMs has been cut by 20% by the deep consolidation process of the sector, according to Servimedia.

Even so, the existing infrastructure at the end of last year implies that there are still 1.5 points of access to cash for every 1,000 inhabitants of the Spanish territory. However, the Bank of Spain noted that the geographical distribution of ATMs and branches is "heterogeneous" at the regional level and gives rise to multiple inequalities.

"This implies that a part of the population, who lives in areas with less density, lacks a point of access to the affective in its municipality and within a radius of five kilometers. In case of a hypothetical closure of some existing points, the population Affected would be substantially higher, "continues the Bank of Spain.

On this question, the Bank of Spain put as an example the provinces of Cáceres and Soria. The Agency estimates that the hypothetical closure of a traditional point of cash access in Cáceres would have a "relevant" effect on the coverage of the network, which would reduce the percentage of population with an access point within a radius of 5 kilometers until 79 % in this province, compared to 89% current. In addition, the average distance between the municipalities with and without access points would rise from 7.8 kilometers to 11.2 kilometers.

The dynamics in Soria - which has a coverage similar to that of cáceres today - would be similar, since the closure of these points of access would reduce coverage at 5 percentage points, up to 83%, and would raise the average distance to 13.5 kilometers, almost 4 kilometers more than today.

The reason for this impact on cash accessibility is because these regions have an "important" number of municipalities "which serves as a closest access point to surrounding municipalities." "Thus, in some cases, a single point of access provides service to a set of up to seven municipalities," explained the Bank of Spain.

Faced with this reality, the Bank of Spain asks to implement other solutions, although it admits that, "by its current limitations, they can not completely replace the range of services provided by these channels." Among those alternatives, the Agency pointed to mobile offices, financial agents, the withdrawal of cash in a commercial establishment and the use of post offices.

Regarding this last method, the Bank of Spain noted that the use of postal offices for financial purposes is "very widespread" in rural areas of countries such as Ireland, United Kingdom or Australia. In spite of being "unusual" in Spain, the body considers that the post offices could be generalized cash access points, thanks to "their wide dispersion and capillarity in the territory".

Date Of Update: 04 August 2021, 09:02

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