COVID has accelerated the closure of Banks in Baltimore

What’s happening?

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a trend in banking: the closure of bank branches as consumers transition to managing their money digitally. 

According to a report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., 46 bank branches in Greater Baltimore shuttered between July 1, 2020 and June 31, 2021. That’s compared to just nine branches that closed between July 1, 2019 and July 30, 2020. 

How else has the pandemic affected banking? 

More banks began offering by-appointment options and expanding drive-through services to include full-service transactions, among other actions, Mindy Lehman, a senior vice president at the Maryland Bankers Association told the Baltimore Business Journal. 

Anything else I should know? 

While banks save money from closing branches—which they say are passed on to customers—the decline in locations disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color that are more likely to frequent branches. 

For instance, there are 52 community statistical areas (clusters of neighborhoods) in Baltimore, and 18 of them have zero bank locations per 1,000 residents, according to research by Al Gourrier, an assistant professor at the University of Baltimore. Of those 18 neighborhoods, 17 of them have at least 85% Black residents. 

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