Large banks have had no choice but to put their batteries in the current post-pandemic scenario and have decided to change their commercial strategy and offer completely free accounts on their online channel, directed almost without exception to new customers.
Given the advance of the so-called neobanks, traditional banks have been almost forced to extend to the general public a “zero cost” offer that they previously reserved for their best customers, those who have more contracted products, from the payroll account to the mortgage , through insurance and investment funds.
The objective is to attract customers and link them, the more the better, so that the volume of business compensates for the very low level of income, heavily burdened by years of zero and even negative interest, and the digital channel is the ideal one to launch the cane in the fishing grounds more desirable: young, with payroll and mortgage.
In Spain, BBVA was the first entity to offer a commission-free account on its digital channel, only for new customers, which can be hired without stepping on an office, through the web or the mobile application and with which they have convinced so far 700,000 customers.
Without commissions and without conditions, the entity explains on its website, without waiting, without paperwork and in a fast and very innovative way and in accordance with the times, since to open the account the client only has to take a selfie .
Banco Santander, as the newspaper Expansión announced this week , has also wanted to make a move and has launched a totally free account, exclusively for new customers, which does not require linking or charge for maintenance or cards.
CaixaBank, through imagin (the old imaginBank), also has a mobile account without administration or maintenance fees for people over 18 years of age. The account includes a debit card without issuance or maintenance fees and the possibility of making free transfers in euros within and outside of Spain.
The entity does not ask for direct payroll or receipts as a requirement to access these and other advantages, some very focused on younger customers, such as free access to digital content and services such as music, video games, trends, technology and sustainability.
The Banco Sabadell Active Account does not charge fees or commissions and allows free national transfers and also to the countries of the European Economic Area (EEA).
Likewise, it offers debit and credit cards and free withdrawals with no minimum amount at the ATMs of the Sabadell network and at the main entities attached to the EURO 6000 network.
Bankinter, for its part, has a Payroll Account, which is contracted online and does not charge maintenance fees, in addition to offering free national transfers, a free credit card and free debit cash withdrawals at more than 14,000 ATMs.
As they have explained to Efe from the entity, it is a remunerated account, which pays up to 5% APR the first year and up to 2% APR the second, with a maximum limit of 5,000 euros.
The bank, in full transformation
At the same time that they compete for customers, deposits and mortgages, Spanish banks are in the middle of another wave of mergers and acquisitions, which they justify with the argument of digitization, the crisis and low profitability.
However, unions, consumer associations and even some entities of the so-called ethical banking assure that the continuous closure of offices, especially in small cities and rural areas, puts customers who are not used to operating in danger of financial exclusion. via Internet.
In this way, at least the main entities plan to close the year with some 4,000 fewer branches, which will join the approximately 23,000 that have disappeared since the beginning of the previous crisis, in 2008, according to a recent report by JP Morgan.
They also plan to leave some 16,000 employees, with 6,400 from the new CaixaBank after the absorption of Bankia; the 3,600 that leave Santander, the almost 3,000 that BBVA calculates, the 1,900 that Banco Sabadell announced last week and the approximately 1,000 that Unicaja could lose after absorbing Liberbank.