FAST MONEY

Spain’s new approach to banking: once-a-month and on a bus

Bankia, Spain’s fourth-largest bank, lost €19.2 billion ($25.5 billion) last year and received a bailout carrying the condition that it lay off workers and shut down branches.

Having closed outlets earlier this year, Bankia is now dispatching buses equipped with tellers to provide services to customers with no local means of withdrawing or depositing money. The initial plan was to have these buses show up several times a month (link in Spanish), though at least in the towns of Maderuelo, Castile, and León, the bus comes only once a month.

Bankia had originally planned to close 1,100 offices and lay off 4,500 workers over three years. But the Spanish lender accelerated the process in hopes of completing it within a year. Over the last four years, bank closings have become common in Europe: 20,000 branches have been closed. Spain has more branches per person than any other country in Europe, but its number of branches fell 17% in 2012.

Below are pictures of Spain’s bank-on-wheels.

Customers wait for their turn to enter a bank bus during its monthly call on customers in the village of Maderuelo, central Spain, June 4, 2013. A queue of pensioners waits to board a brown and green bus in the medieval village of Maderuelo on Spain's arid central plains. It only comes once a month and won't take them anywhere, but they're mostly happy with the service. The bus, parked up alongside a van selling frozen fish, is a mobile bank run by bailed-out Spanish lender Bankia to serve remote areas with no branches. Inside it looks much like any other small branch, but for the elastic bands that keep the furniture in place when it's on the move. Picture taken June 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Sergio Perez  (SPAIN - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTX12GXC
For residents in the village of Maderuelo, this is what a trip to the bank looks like. Reuters/Sergio Perez.
Villagers wait for their turn to board a bank bus during its monthly call on customers in the village of Corral de Ayllon, central Spain, June 4, 2013. A queue of pensioners waits to board a brown and green bus in the medieval village of Maderuelo on Spain's arid central plains. It only comes once a month and won't take them anywhere, but they're mostly happy with the service. The bus, parked up alongside a van selling frozen fish, is a mobile bank run by bailed-out Spanish lender Bankia to serve remote areas with no branches. Inside it looks much like any other small branch, but for the elastic bands that keep the furniture in place when it's on the move. Picture taken June 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Sergio Perez  (SPAIN - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTX12GX9
Banking in the village of Corral de Ayllon, which has about 60 residents. Reuters/Sergio Perez.
Villagers wait for their turn inside a bank bus during its monthly call on customers in the village of Corral de Ayllon, central Spain, June 4, 2013. A queue of pensioners waits to board a brown and green bus in the medieval village of Maderuelo on Spain's arid central plains. It only comes once a month and won't take them anywhere, but they're mostly happy with the service. The bus, parked up alongside a van selling frozen fish, is a mobile bank run by bailed-out Spanish lender Bankia to serve remote areas with no branches. Inside it looks much like any other small branch, but for the elastic bands that keep the furniture in place when it's on the move.  Picture taken June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Sergio Perez  (SPAIN - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTX12GXD
Inside it looks much like any other small branch except for elastic bands that keep the furniture in place when it’s on the move. Reuters/Sergio Perez.
A travelling bank bus drives over a bridge after making its monthly call on customers in the village of Maderuelo, central Spain, June 4, 2013. A queue of pensioners waits to board a brown and green bus in the medieval village of Maderuelo on Spain's arid central plains. It only comes once a month and won't take them anywhere, but they're mostly happy with the service. The bus, parked up alongside a van selling frozen fish, is a mobile bank run by bailed-out Spanish lender Bankia to serve remote areas with no branches. Inside it looks much like any other small branch, but for the elastic bands that keep the furniture in place when it's on the move. Picture taken June 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Sergio Perez  (SPAIN - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTX12GX4
Without the bank-on-wheels, customers in remote areas such as Maderuelo would have to travel up to 150km (95 miles) to complete their bank transactions. Reuters/Sergio Perez.
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