Customers of Bank Leumi (TASE:LUMI) and Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) in Petah Tikva will have a hard time finding a teller in Israel's fifth largest city. Leumi has just one teller in its five branches in the city while Hapoalim doesn't have a single teller in its seven branches and customers needing such services must travel to Or Yehuda or Bnei Brak.
Petah Tikva is just one example of what is happening in the banks in Israel's biggest cities as ATMs and digital services replace traditional banking services. But there are still many who need these basic services. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 15% of Israelis aged 20 and over have no credit card and much of this population doesn't use digital services, so they need tellers.
In Tel Aviv, Bank Hapoalim has 20 branches with tellers in just two of them. In Haifa where the bank has 10 branches, tellers can only be found in the city's main branch, and in Jerusalem where Hapoalim has 15 branches, tellers are only available in one branch.
The situation is not much different at Bank Leumi, which has tellers in two of its 17 branches in Tel Aviv, two of its 11 branches in Haifa and three of its 16 branches in Jerusalem. In all of Israel, Leumi has tellers in just 34 branches.
Leumi says that customers can receive a telephone code that allows them to withdraw money from ATMs without a card. Leumi also said that due to Covid demand for teller services has fallen to almost nothing.
Hapoalim say that they have set up special cash service centers to provide a balance between personal banking services and innovative services. Such a service center located between Petah Tikva and Bnei Brak provides such services for all the residents of Petah Tikva, Bnei Brak and Ramat Gan.
Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT), which has tellers in two of its 13 branches in Tel Aviv, three of its 11 branches in Jerusalem and two of its five branches in Haifa, said. "Customers can withdraw money from ATMs even without a card through a one-time secured code."
On the other hand, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (TASE:MZTF) has not embraced this trend and says that it has kept tellers in all of its 150 branches throughout Israel. First International Bank of Israel (TASE:FTIN also has kept tellers in a relatively large number of its branches - one of its three Petah Tikva branches, five of its 11 Tel Aviv branches, three of its six Haifa branches and four of its six Jerusalem branches.
The Bank of Israel is aware of the trend and stresses that the Supervisor of Banks instructions relate extensively to the situation in which a bank decides to close tellers. "A plan is required for continuing providing the services. In particular, stress is placed on currency services and personal assistance and support of customers who find it difficult to use automatic and digital devices. The instructions also require automatic machines to be installed at every branch that carry out most teller services."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 18, 2021
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