Banking services have a cost, and now you have to pay for it. What had been free to date is no longer free. The dreaded commissions have been generalized in almost all entities. And beyond that, digitization has also changed the way we do banking. Presencialism, going to the office for everything, walk down; Either because the habits of consumers are no longer those of yesteryear, or because the bank pushes them to abandon branches.
The collection of commissions has come to stay and will go further, as published by ABC. You have even come to use the window to withdraw cash. The account maintenance is
the one that has entered with greater virulence in these years, now reaching according to which entities to have to pay 240 euros per year if a series of conditions are not met.
Those 240 euros can be avoided in two ways: leaving the office or fulfilling the requirements, which usually tend to be having a direct debit payroll, making card payments, contracting investment products … The second of the ways to skip commissions is the most used , but the first one also gains more and more weight: if the client does not go to the branch and only uses online banking, the commissions can be removed.
This last reasoning is the one that a good part of banking has followed these years. In a matter of weeks all the major entities will count with accounts that are 100% online and, therefore, without commissions. The big drawback is that you cannot go to the branch, leaving the customer ‘expelled’ from that presence that had prevailed until now.
However, physical interaction in the office is increasingly reserved for transcendental operations (mortgages, loans …) or people without technological adaptation. The truth is that, as financial sources point out, activity in branches compared to the pre-Covid stage has fallen between 40% and 60%, according to banks. And this reduction in activity also results in the closure of establishments.
At the end of the last quarter of 2019, there were 23,851 depository institution offices in Spain, according to data from the Bank of Spain. At the end of the second quarter of 2021 the amount has been reduced up to 20,823. The trend these years has been unstoppable downward: since 2015, 10,000 branches have been lost to the rhythm of digitization.
BBVA was the pioneer bank in digital accounts without commissions. He has been promoting this option for some years now. What’s more, the bank puts a lot of value on the growth it experiences in online customers. The entity of Basque origin was followed by others, until reaching all the larger entities. Caixabank has Imagin, its bank for young people without commissions and online.
Banco Santander, which traditionally had a free and online option, had abandoned it after its change of strategy to One. But it has already resumed a 100% digital account option and without commissions, which can already be contracted at the bank. This is a pilot test to see how popular and successful this formula is today. Thus, the entity has not yet launched a commercial campaign to sell this account, at the expense of knowing its reception, as reported by financial sources. Banco Sabadell will be the last to enter this niche recently with the launch of its free online account in the coming weeks.
Financial sources indicate that banks have taken this step against their traditional strategy to adapt to the sector and the way of attracting new customers. Against its traditional strategy because these digital clients are the ones with the least connection since nothing is required of them.
But in a scenario of high and increasing competition, banks choose to follow each other, to the point that in very similar terms they end up offering very similar accounts. “First you attract customers and then you can make them link up,” indicate financial sources. In this sense, the free online accounts acts as a kind of hook for the young public or who cannot momentarily meet the linking requirements to avoid the commissions of traditional accounts.
Likewise, the entities defend that a large investment has been made in digitization in recent years so that everything works over the internet like a well-oiled engine. Thus, this bet is also made to fight with the same weapons against neobanks, and without forgetting that with attractive offers without commissions they can fish in troubled rivers.
That troubled river is that of bank mergers. Thinking about those of Caixabank and Bankia, and Unicaja and Liberbank, your competitors also launch with these free accounts to try to attract the customer dissatisfied with the increase in commissions.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism