MILAN (Reuters) – More than three-quarters of the population in Lombardy, Italy’s largest and most industrialized region, banked online last year, compared with the national average of 63%, the Bank of Italy said on Wednesday.
Digital banking in Lombardy has grown 20 percentage points since 2015, the central bank said in a report on the region’s economy, which grew 3.8% in 2022, slightly above the national average.
The data supports No. 2 Italian bank UniCredit’s argument against acquiring Lombardy-based rival Banco BPM (BAMI.MI), a deal some shareholders have called for to strengthen its regional presence. In April UniCredit CEO Andrea Orcel said digital users helped his bank secure 11% of deposits in Lombardy, more than its 6% share of branches in the region suggested.
Italy’s ageing population spread over about 7,900 municipalities has been slower to adopt digital banking, a major way for lenders to cut costs, than in the UK and Nordic countries.
The number of bank branches in Lombardy fell 4% in 2022, bringing the total decline since 2008 to 39%, compared with 41% for the European Union, the Bank of Italy said.
Even with the reduction, Lombardy has 41 bank branches per 100,000 residents, against a national average of 36, it added.
Citing Eurostat data, the Bank of Italy said 67% of Lombardy’s population in 2022 accessed banking services online. This is in line with the EU average and some 10 percentage points above the Italian average.
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