JPMorgan Chase announces brick-and-mortar bank expansion in a digital age
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In the year 2024, when you think banking, you think mobile apps, online deposits, digital future, right? Not so fast. JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, announced today it’s opening more than 500 new brick-and-mortar branches and renovating another 1,700. This follows an expansion by Bank of America last summer. So, what’s the value of banking in person in the digital age?
You don’t usually think of a bank as having a living room. But Jason Patton of JPMorgan Chase says they’ll be a staple in a handful of the bank’s new branches, which are meant to be places where people chat.
“We’ve gone from more transactions in the branches to being more advice centers,” he said.
Patton says people — customers or not — can come for classes on budgeting and investing. The idea is to introduce the bank to new markets.
“Some of these branches, we’re opening up in places where we’re not as well known,” he said. “So, in many cases, people don’t know what we have to offer.”
And it’s important to see and be seen by those people if banks are going to drum up new business, said Jaime Peters, a finance professor at Maryville University in St. Louis.
“By going and building these new branches, and having that placard on the side of the road that people pass every day, that is brand awareness, that is trust building,” she said.
Also, Peters said, small and mid-sized businesses like to have a relationship with a banker they know for help with things like payroll and taking out loans.
“If you’re a small business and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, I forgot to pay a vendor,’ you want to be able to call somebody very quick and get it done,” she said.
Big banks have another incentive to add branches: The ones that hold more than 10% of the nation’s deposits are generally prohibited from acquiring other banks, said Michael Rose, a managing director in equity research for Raymond James.
“So because you’ve removed the ability for them to actually acquire other banks, they have to grow essentially organically,” he said.
The overall number of bank branches in the U.S. peaked over a decade ago, and has dropped by about 16% since then.
There are still communities without any banks, known as bank deserts. And Jaime Peters of Maryville University said this expansion doesn’t necessarily solve that.
“There does have to be a critical mass of customers to open a physical branch,” she said.
And, she said, that’s not the case in some parts of the country.
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