[WATCH] HSBC to shut down eight branches across Malta as ‘local bank’ pushes online services

Balzan, Birzebbugia, Cospicua, Fgura, Hamrun, Marsaskala, St Julian’s and St Paul’s Bay to close by 2019-2020, and voluntary reduction in roles subject to union agreement

HSBC CEO Andrew Beane on branch closures

HSBC Malta has announced it will close its Balzan branch to merge it with its Qormi ‘flagship’ branch in a move designed to shift more retail banking services online. 

The closure, slated for 2020, will make its principal Qormi office HSBC’s largest branch in the country, delivering “the best of the bank’s services” with improved access such as parking. 

The branches in Birzebbuga, Cospicua, Fgura, Hamrun, Marsascala, St Julian’s and St Paul’s Bay will close by the end of 2019. The bank will maintain self-service ATM and deposit machines in any locality where a branch will close.  

The bank also announced “subject to MUBE agreement, a reduction in roles within the organisation on a voluntary basis”. 

The bank’s branches in Valletta, Mosta, Paola, Sliema and Victoria (Gozo) will provide more services, parking for customers and, subject to consultation with the Malta Union of Bank Employees (MUBE), will open for longer hours, HSBC said. 

These branches will be supported by four new Wealth Management Centres which will be located in Birkirkara, Mosta, Paola and Swieqi branches providing extended access to specialist advisors, affording customers more flexibility and convenience. 

HSBC will continue to operate full-service branches in Birkirkara, Gzira, Swieqi, Rabat, Zejtun and Zurrieq and invest in customer service centres in Mellieha, Zabbar, Zebbug and San Gwann.  

HSBC Malta CEO Andrew Beane (left) talking to minority shareholders at the bank's AGM
HSBC Malta CEO Andrew Beane (left) talking to minority shareholders at the bank's AGM

HSBC Malta CEO Andrew Beane said the bank was responding to the way customers were banking. “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.  With the closure of some branches, this 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.”

While the bank said branch banking will continue to be a critical part to HSBC Malta’s service, “what branches do for their customers and how and when they do it is changing.”

HSBC said the closures reflect more investment in digital capabilities for customers. Research conducted by HSBC Group globally shows that 80% of banking transactions are completed digitally, with 45% on mobile devices. 

Similarly, 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. 

“HSBC Malta is changing how it will serve its customers to reflect these trends. The bank recently launched new mobile banking and internet banking platforms which are seeing significant growth in usage as customers choose speed, ease and simplicity to undertake their everyday transactions. Its contact centres are supporting 20% more calls when compared to the same period last year, as customers choose to interact with the bank in different ways.” 

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