In most Deutsche Bank branches, cash will only be available from ATMs in the future. Consumer advocates take a critical view of the plans.

In most Deutsche Bank branches, cash will no longer be available at the counter in the medium term. “In the future I no longer want to offer cash in the branches, because holding cash causes costs,” said the head of the domestic private customer business of the largest German financial institution, Lars Stoy, at the end of May at a non-public investor conference, as is now known became. Consumer advocates see the plans as a “clear step backwards for consumers”.

The branches should focus on advice

“The main task of the branch is sales,” Stoy said. «Advising clients on investments, mortgages, to some extent consumer credit and insurance. Then branches will be profitable again.” According to the plans, the institute only wants to offer cash in a few large centers. In most Deutsche Bank branches, notes will then only be available from ATMs.

Deutsche Bank confirms Stoy’s quotes in several media outlets. A spokeswoman explains that the money house will “reduce the number of personal cash expenditures in branches in the medium term as part of its strategic transformation in Germany”. This is done “taking into account the respective customer demand and the range of self-service services on site”.

With the plans, Deutsche Bank is also responding to changes in customer behavior. When it comes to paying and handling cash as a whole, “a clear trend towards cashless payment can be seen”. Customers have access to a “nationwide network of ATMs” for the supply of cash, and money can also be withdrawn when shopping in many supermarkets or at gas stations.

Consumer advocates are critical

Dorothea Mohn from the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv) spoke of a “clear step backwards for consumers”. “Where there are still branches, the service at the counter should continue to be offered,” demanded the head of the financial market at the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations. “Such a restriction on cash is not in the interests of consumers. Politicians must react to such developments and take appropriate countermeasures.” Easy access to cash must be secured.

The number of bank branches in Germany has been falling for years. In order to reduce costs, a number of credit institutions have significantly thinned out their branch network, also because more and more customers are using digital channels for banking transactions. At the same time, there is a trend towards restricting the issuing of cash at the counter. For example, some institutes charge a fee for issuing notes at the counter for certain account models.