International Comparisons of Bank Branches – An Update 6. Conclusions

The original submission cautioned that differences in the structure of financial systems, population densities and other factors made international comparisons of banking facilities difficult. Bearing this caveat in mind, the updated analysis provides three broad conclusions:

  • the number of bank branches per million inhabitants, and more general measures of payments system entry points, has declined further in the 1990s in Australia and most other – though not all – developed countries. Australia's ranking has moved from the top three or four to around the middle of the range. This is a continuation of the earlier trend and has been driven mainly by the desire of banks worldwide to reduce operating costs and substitute electronic access for branches;
  • although branch representation outside capital cities in Australia has been steadily declining, the introduction of giroPost has increased access to basic banking services provided by a number of financial institutions, both in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas;
  • and ATM and EFTPOS penetration continues to rise strongly in Australia, though the recent pace has lagged many other countries. After adopting the technology fairly early and ranking among the leaders in the late 1980s, Australia is now in the middle of the range.