EDITOR NOTE: The “cards over cash” trend has accelerated as the coronavirus pandemic has increased the demand for safety and convenience over personal banking. PNC Financial Services permanently closed 52 branch offices. This is just the beginning. Expect to see more from other financial powerhouses. The problem here is that customers bear the brunt of risk: electronic disruptions, cybersecurity threats, and digital money can spell disaster when physical cash becomes a matter of survival, or when digital funds are too easily subject manipulation and surveillance.
PNC Financial Services plans to permanently close 52 branch offices.
In a filing with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the financial powerhouse said it intends to close nine branch offices in Western Pennsylvania, including offices in downtown Greensburg, Indiana, North Versailles, Elizabeth, Mt. Lebanon, West Mifflin, Bridgeville and South Fayette.
The closures that include PNC branches in 13 states are part of an ongoing transformation of the U.S. banking industry, as transactions once handled on paper and in person are increasingly moving to the digital world. An analysis of federal records by Quartz found the number of full-service bank branch offices across the U.S. declined from 95,000 in 2010 to 83,000 last year.
PNC, with roots in Pittsburgh predating the Civil War, today is a financial powerhouse that boasts about 2,400 branches in 37 states, with multiple branches in some Pittsburgh-area communities.
Stephen Biggar, an analyst with Argus Research in New York, said the PNC filing is part of a trend that began some years ago and has accelerated with the pandemic shutdown. The physical offices of many of the branches that are slated to close have been shuttered for weeks.
“Banks for years have been trying to get people to bank electronically, and the industry has been encouraging the use of cards over cash. Banks are selling customers on added convenience. Branches cost money to run, so what we’re looking at is a long-running trend. They’re looking at places that are less profitable and where there is already a density,” he said.
That, more than the impact of the pandemic, apparently was part of the calculus in PNC’s decision to close its downtown Greensburg branch.
“We constantly evaluate our branches, together with our other available channels of banking, to ensure that they are most effectively meeting our customers’ needs. As a result of these evaluations, which were conducted independently of impacts created by covid-19, the decision was made to consolidate the South Main Street (Greensburg) Branch. It will permanently close on Oct. 16, and will be consolidated at that time with the Greengate Centre Branch, located at 200 Greengate Centre Circle,” PNC spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel wrote in an email.
“There are more ways to bank with PNC than ever before via online, mobile, ATM, phone, etc., and we have continued to see our customers taking advantage of the investments we have made in these channels by altering the ways in which they have been banking with us,” Zwiebel wrote.
Originally posted on TribLive