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Jan 21, 2018

bank branches closing across Israel

Logging into my bank account online recently has the following message popping up warning me of  upcoming changes in the bank..

The warning says that as of March 14, 2018, my branch (Hapoalim in RBS) will be converted to a branch  holding no cash and no clerk services. From that date and on, all relevant services will be provided via the self-service machines. Other direct channels to the bank, such as via Internet, telephone, and app, will continue to function and be available. When necessary, bank branch 692 (the central Bet Shemesh branch located in downtown Bet Shemesh) will be available for all clerical services.

This is a trend happening in all the bank chains all over Israel. They are closing and/or merging branches in order to consolidate and save money.

Personally, I hate going into the bank and avoid it as much as possible. I use the machines to deposit checks,  as I get a lot of these through my business, and I use the online services. The only time I go into the bank is if I am sent a notice that I need to come in and pick up a problematic check that I deposited, or if they tell me I need to come in to sign something. Once every few years I also need to renew my credit cards.

The biggest problem I see with this is that half the times the various self-service machines are not functioning properly. Currently, they can be fixed or rebooted relatively quickly (not including Saturday nights and Sundays when the branch is closed), as I or someone else can go into the bank and let them know, but with no actual bank behind it with real people talking to customers, I can see it taking longer to get the machines fixed. Maybe they will keep a small branch open with some services still provided by clerks, such as mortgage services and the like, and that will keep bank people nearby.

Additionally, with everyone needing personal service in the entire city going to one branch, that place will be packed and will be impossible to use.

Another point is that closing a branch in lieu of online services in a largely Haredi neighborhood seems like a bad idea. While many/most people do have Internet and app access, many do not and they need the in-bank services for a lot of what they do.

I get why they are doing this but I don't like it, even though I don't like going into the bank anyway.

UPDATE: to clarify, the bank branch is not closing but they are putting an end to cash services. There will be no tellers for deposits and withdrawals. Other clerks and the various services they provide will still be functioning as they have until now

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