Making progress in the financial inclusion of rural areas in Spain
Bank of Spain analyses recent developments in the accessibility of banking services in Spain, from the perspective of both supply (the in-person access points available) and demand (customer use and assessment). Results highlight the importance of accompanying the deployment of alternative channels (financial agents, mobile branches, cashback and Correos Cash) with actions to promote and facilitate their use by customers, as well as the need to assess the effectiveness of the different alternatives available.
Main findings of the report:
- The reduction in the number of bank branches between 2021 and 2022 was offset by the establishment of mobile branches in smaller municipalities and financial agents in larger municipalities.
- Between 2021 and 2022, the number of municipalities without any in-person points of access to banking services was reduced by 167 (2.1% of municipalities and 0.13% of the population).
- The percentage of municipalities without any in-person point of access to banking services decreased to a greater extent than in the case of other services, both those provided privately (shops and bars) and those with a certain component of public provision (health care and pharmacies).
- The use by customers of alternative channels to bank branches (financial agents, mobile branches, cashback and Correos Cash) is very limited, both in the case of the elderly and in the case of the population residing in municipalities without a stable branch.
- Customers surveyed perceive an appreciable increase in 2022 in the distance to the closest point of access to regular cash in municipalities without a stable bank branch.
This apparent discrepancy between the behaviour of accessibility measures on the supply side and on the demand, side could be explained by the fact that the greater availability of access points is a result of the implementation of new alternative channels, in a context in which customers still mostly use bank branches.