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What is Branchless Banking?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 18, 2024
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Branchless banking is a type of banking that takes place where the banking customer does not need to visit a branch or central location of the bank. Rather, banking business may be completed through technological services, such as online, over the phone, or through an ATM; alternatively, banks may offer services in third-party locations such as post offices or grocery stores. Branchless banking is very common, and many people are able to complete all their banking online without ever having to visit the bank.

There are many benefits to branchless banking. There is no need to take time out of the day to visit the bank in order to withdraw or deposit money; in addition, account balances can be checked and verified at any time of the day. In addition, one may immediately check and see if certain checks have cleared, or if automatic bill payments have been made. Many people are able to log on to their bank's website through a smartphone; it is no longer even necessary to find a computer.

In addition, branchless banking can often help to save the bank money. This could potentially lead to the bank offering better interest rates on loans, or less fees on certain accounts, for example. Though this is of course not always the case, many banks do find that customers appreciate the convenience of being able to complete their banking business from any location. Small banks located in grocery stores or post offices also have all the services of a branch bank, with the exception of safe deposit boxes.

There are some downsides to branchless banking, however. First, accessing one's account through the computer or a smartphone may not be as secure; there is always the potential for viruses or spyware to be present on the computer. In addition, sometimes it is necessary to visit the bank, such as to open an account, or to place something in a safe deposit box. If the bank does not have any nearby locations because it is focused on branchless banking, this could be inconvenient, and might encourage customers to switch to a different bank.

The best idea might be to do one's banking business with a local bank that also offers online banking services and convenient ATM locations. This way, one can visit the bank if necessary. Otherwise, one can still do all of one's banking business as needed completely over the phone or online.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By chivebasil — On Feb 07, 2012

I have an online account set up with my bank but I still like to do most of my banking at a physical location. I know it's naive, but there is something about manipulating your money in digital form like that that gives me a bad feeling.

I also like the customer service element you get at a real location. I am not technically illiterate, but there are aspects of the online banking that confuse me. I like that I can go into a branch and get any question answered on the spot. I don't have to go hunting for information at a branch.

By truman12 — On Feb 06, 2012

Now that I can bank online I almost never go to a branch location. Why take the time?

I can view all of my accounts and move money with the click of a button. I can deposit checks using an app that I have on my phone. I can set up automatic bill pays and alerts that come to me through text message. All the services I used to go to my branch for are right there in my smartphone.

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