Banking's Future Emerges: Fewer Banks, More Online

The future of banks may be: fewer of them.

Traditional brick-and-mortar bank branches are closing at a record pace – more than 1,700 this past fiscal year.

It’s the fastest such decline on record.

Banks are concentrating on online and mobile services. They're following consumer trends ... and cutting costs in the process.

That means less need for facilities and tellers … and an improved bottom line for banks.

Industry watchers say it can be a win-win going forward – because it’s better for the bottom line, and it reflects emerging consumer preferences.

Leading the trend is Wells Fargo, which closed more than 200 branches last year and plans to shut down 800 more locations nationwide by 2020.

Also, Bank of America has closed about 15 percent of locations in recent years, while JPMorgan Chase has shut down about 9 percent of locations.

Meanwhile Wells Fargo shares are taking a hit on Wall Street for unrelated reasons. The bank's shares are tanking because at least five Wall Street investment banks downgraded it following harsh enforcement actions by the Federal Reserve.

On Friday, the Federal Reserve reported it was restricting Wells Fargo's size due to reported "widespread consumer abuses."  Stock market experts are surprised by the federal banks cease-and-desist, but believe since investors can't predict when it will be lifted, the stocks will continue to plummet.

Wells Fargo has not responded to the downgrades yet.

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