Major US banks are beginning to alter their branch operations.

In an effort to protect their employees and customers, major banks have turned towards an unprecedented measure: They have decided to begin closing branches indefinitely.

Business Insider reports that banks are opting for two primary branch strategies to minimize risk, one is eliminating all in-person interactions by temporarily shuttering branches. The most prominent example of this strategy is JPMorgan Chase & Co., that said it would close 20% of its nearly 5,000 branches starting March 24. The bank already had scaled back weekday hours at its branches. Capital One Financial Corp. is also pursuing this tactic, opting to temporarily close 41 Capital One Cafés and about a quarter of its 461 branches —about half in New York City— to “minimize health risks from the coronavirus.” Other banks are closing their branch lobbies but maintaining availability by offering services only via their drive-thru windows. BBVA, for example, would be taking this approach, making most branches drive-thru only and closing locations without drive-thrus or those close to other locations that have a drive-thru option. Similar tactics are being undertaken by Truist, PNC, Huntington Bank, and Fifth Third.

Meanwhile, consumers are still going to need to access their money during the crisis, so US banks’ online and phone banking options to the test. This,  writes for Business Insider, will shine a white-hot spotlight on exactly what tools banks offer through those channels, their effectiveness, and whether their platforms are braced to handle a sudden surge in volume.


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