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Number of bank branches in S. Korea dips in 2015

All Headlines 09:25 April 11, 2016

SEOUL, April 11 (Yonhap) -- Banks in South Korea saw the number of their branches decline sharply in 2015 from the previous year due to customers' increased use of mobile and Internet banking, data showed Monday.

According to the data based on their annual reports, 13 national and regional banks had a combined 5,890 branches and representative offices across the nation as of end-2015, down 165 from a year earlier.

The decline was attributed mainly to the growing popularity of mobile and Internet banking, which prompted lenders to reorganize overlapping or unprofitable branches.

According to a central bank tally, the number of daily transactions processed via Internet and mobile phones reached an average 78.02 million in 2015, spiking 17.4 percent from the previous year.

The amount of money processed through such means also surged 9.3 percent on-year to an average 40.29 trillion won (US$35 billion) per day.

The daily average of smartphone-based mobile banking transactions came to 42.39 million last year, more than tripling from three years earlier, with the amount surging 36.2 percent on-year to 2.49 trillion won.

SC First Bank, formerly Standard Chartered Bank Korea Ltd., posted the largest drop by cutting 71 branches last year.

Instead, the lender has established 42 "bank shops" and smart banking centers where two to three employees offer most services except cash deposits and withdrawals.

SC First Bank was followed by Woori Bank with 37 shutdowns, KEB Hana Bank with 27 and Kookmin Bank with 23. As of end-2015, Kookmin had the largest branch number with 1,138.

Of the 13 lenders, only three regional banks -- Kyongnam, Jeonbuk and Jeonju -- didn't cut back on their branches.

In addition, the banks sharply cut the number of automated teller machines, cash dispensers and other automated machines as part of cost-saving efforts last year, with the number standing at 38,254, down 1,469 from the previous year.
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