Chase to Close 20 Percent of U.S. Branches, Push Digital Banking During Outbreak

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Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
March 18, 2020
Chase is planning to temporarily close 1,000 branches, starting Thursday, to protect its employees and help reduce the spread of coronavirus, according to a memo from Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of the consumer bank, to branch employees seen by Cheddar.
The bank will continue to pay branch employees for their regularly scheduled hours even if they are affected by reduced hours, branch closures, or asked to stay home, the letter said. It is also giving branch employees two additional paid vacation days. 
Branches with teller partitions and drive-throughs will remain open. Financial advisors, small business bankers, and home lending advisors will begin working from home, also starting Thursday.
Chase, the largest U.S. bank by assets, has about 5,100 branches and is the first of the major financial institutions to report branch closures related to the fallout of COVID-19.
Duckett also emphasized the importance of helping “ensure customers can bank digitally and know all the options to bank in every scenario.”
"This is an opportunity for banks to show their breadth of digital banking options because we know banking services are not set up to operate remotely,” said Dave Donovan, EVP of financial services at Publicis Sapient.
Though fintech has disrupted the traditional financial services industry for the last 10 years with mobile- and digital-first banking experiences, the bigger and older players typically haven’t made any true digital shifts.
"Financial tools will be imperative in easing the burden during this time,” Donovan added. “Customers not only have to continue paying bills and conducting their regular banking — and they’ll have to do it all via mobile or desktop.”
Chase emphasized it still has a strong physical presence, however.
“Chase is open for business in every one of markets, with bankers in our branches ready to help customers across our entire footprint,” a bank spokesperson said in a follow-up statement. “Our temporarily smaller footprint will allow us to provide appropriate coverage in every market we serve so we can continue to serve our clients with the services they need.”
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