If Leon Cooperman opened London’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper yesterday, he probably liked what he read.
Cooperman, founder of the $3.4 billion hedge fund Omega Advisors, is one of the largest shareholders of Monitise Plc (LON:MONI) (OTCMKTS:MONIF), a firm that facilitates online banking transactions.
In the Sunday Telegraph the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) revealed they will release a new report that concludes the “era of the traditional bank branch is dead,” a movement that could benefit the stock of Monitise, according to a report from BTIG Research.
The end of branch banking has begun
The BBA is an industry association representing Britain’s five biggest banks and authored a soon to be released report titled “Banking on the Move: The Revolution Has Begun.” The report notes there double the average online and mobile banking application uses per week in 2013 at Barclays PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC), HSBC Holdings plc (ADR) (NYSE:HSBC), Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (ADR) (NYSE:RBS) (LON:RBS), Lloyds Banking Group PLC (ADR) (NYSE:LYG) (LON:LLOY) and Banco Santander, S.A. (ADR) (NYSE:SAN) (BME:SAN) UK, a strong year over year rise that follows a trend.
In the BBA’s second report on the rise of alternative avenues for banking in Britain, the report “is expected to document the seismic changes in the British banking landscape, with a shift at a startling rate to conducting even complex transactions on smart phones, tablet computers and PCs rather than in physical branches,” the Telegraph reported.
Online banking beating branch banking
It’s not only online banking that is surging driving the shift, it is fewer transactions at bank branches. “Most of our major banks are seeing a ten percent fall in branch transactions each year,” Anthony Browne, chief executive of the BBA, was quoted as saying.
Anthony Browne on branch banking
Browne predicted that “branch numbers will continue to fall,” and that those who call for a return to branch banking are “out of kilter with what millions of customers want.” He added that new research conducted by the BBA showed that three out of four Britons use either mobile or internet banking every month.
The Telegraph later described Browne’s comments as “a landmark series of remarks,”
Browne concluded that while mobile and online are becoming more important and prevalent, “branches remain important for those bigger moments, such as taking out a mortgage, talking to someone face to face about your financial options or resolving a complaint. And there will always be those customers who don’t want all this whizzy technology.”
“When I told a bank chairman recently that I last visited a branch three months ago, he was surprised it was that recent and asked jokingly: ‘Are you in financial distress?’” Browne notes.
Browne’s comments “are likely to reignite the long-running debate about the need for banks to maintain large physical estates,” the Telegraph predicted.
The BTIG report went on to note that while Browne’s comments and the BBA report bodes well for Monitise Plc (LON:MONI) (OTCMKTS:MONIF), which has significant penetration in the U.K. and supports retail banks representing 60% of the country’s current accounts. But from a wider perspective “it provides yet another data point supporting the notion that the shift to mobile and online banking from branches has reached a tipping point,” the BTIG report said.