International Comparisons of Bank Branches – An Update 1. Introduction

In November 1994, the Reserve Bank made a submission on ‘International Comparisons of Bank Branches’ to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Banking, Finance and Public Administration, as it then was. At the request of the current Committee, the Bank has updated that submission for the Committee's inquiry into alternative means of providing banking services in regional Australia.

The original submission compared trends in Australian bank branch numbers and electronic facilities with trends in a group of overseas countries for the period 1983–1992. This paper extends the analysis up to 1996. Substantial caveats apply to the comparability of data across countries, as the original submission noted. Of particular importance is the fact that definitions are not always consistent between countries and can change over time in each country. These caveats are still relevant but, for brevity, are not generally repeated here.