Citing consumer trends shifting toward the increased use of digital solutions, HSBC Malta has announced to close down eight of its branches in Malta by the end of the year, according to a press statement sent to Business Malta. HSBC Malta has said that it will open a “flagship” branch in Qormi in 2020 through the merger of the Qormi and Balzan staff.
“The bank expects, subject to MUBE [Malta Union of Bank Employees] agreement, a reduction in roles within the organisation on a voluntary basis. The restructuring costs to deliver these changes will be booked in the 2019 financial results but as the programme is voluntary, the amount will depend on the number of applications,” the press statement says.
Seven branches will be closed in Birżebbuġa, Cospicua, Fgura, Ħamrun, Marsascala, St Julian’s and St Paul’s Bay. The “flagship” branch in Qormi is scheduled for opening in 2020, and is expected to bring together HSBC Malta’s existing Qormi and Balzan branches. The Balzan branch will close, while the new branch in Qormi aspires to be the largest HSBC branch in Malta.
HSBC Malta added that branches in Valletta, Mosta, Paola, Sliema and Victoria (Gozo) will provide more services, while self-service ATM and deposit machines will continue operating in the localities seeing the closures.
At the same time, HSBC Bank Malta Plc has announced a strategic plan to “increase its focus on digital banking services and to modernise its branch network,” which plan is expected to “maximise the opportunities from the rapidly changing way customers are using banks.”
“With the closure of some branches, this [modernisation of branch network] will all be delivered through a more cost-effective operating model which will help us mitigate the long-term impact of negative interest rates on the bank’s profitability in Malta,” said Andrew Beane, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Bank Malta Plc.
“Customers are changing the way they use financial services and HSBC Malta is taking the right actions to respond to this. We are delivering enhanced digital solutions, a modernised branch network with new wealth management centres, and more flexible access to a range of self-service solutions,” the CEO added.
HSBC Malta says that recently it has invested in its digital capabilities, the new “flagship” branch to open soon in Qormi, the development of new wealth management centres, and more flexible access to a range of self-service solutions delivered through a more “cost-effective” operating model. The bank hopes to help mitigate the long-term impact of negative interest rates on the bank’s profitability through the aforementioned steps.
HSBC Malta adds that research by the group shows that globally, 80% of banking transactions are completed digitally, with 45% on mobile devices. Additionally, data gathered by HSBC Malta indicates that Maltese customers’ use of traditional banking services is reducing by more than 10% per annum while mobile usage is increasing 65% each year.
“Branch banking will continue to be a critical part of HSBC Malta’s service offering for the long term. However, what branches do for their customers and how and when they do it is changing,” HSBC Malta says in the press statement.
EDITORIAL NOTES: The original lead has been rephrased in order to offer more information about the closures and the digital transformation HSBC Malta is planning.
Clarification about the closure of the Balzan branch and the merger of its staff with the Qormi “flagship” branch has also been added.
The headline has also be revised from closing seven branches to eight, dut to the merger of the Balzan branch into the Qormi branch. The crosshead of “Right actions” has also been added.