Bank of Cyprus shrinks high street presence

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Bank of Cyprus is downsizing its network by closing 15 more branches and removing ATMs, while plans foresee laying off some 500 employees as it speeds up its digital presence and reduces operational costs.

The bank will be reducing the number of branches within the next few days as another 15 will be closed and six ATMs removed, leaving 60 branches in operation across the island.

According to the bank’s management, BoC is preparing a voluntary exit plan with compensations paid to employees who press the exit button.

BoC’s management has on several occasions indicated that they will not be following rivals Hellenic Bank’s recent attempt to make 350 employees redundant without compensation.

The bank plans to lay off some 500 employees, or 15% of its staff.

Panicos Nicolaou, BoC’s CEO, presenting the bank’s latest results, said that the bank would not be resorting to redundancies without compensation.

“We do not want to resort to redundancies. The management and the administration have always shown great respect towards their staff.”

According to reports, the bank’s exit plan is almost ready. The plan will provide for tax-free compensation.

The scheme will be presented to BoC employees before the year is out, while it is expected to offer compensations of up to €200,000.

Meanwhile, the bank seeks to streamline its network, as most of its customers conduct their transactions online.

The bank is also upgrading its mobile applications.

There was nearly a 40% decrease in the number of transactions that take place at branches, as customers become familiar with alternative means.

In 2019, 724,000 transactions were conducted with the assistance of a teller; in 2021, it fell to 440,000 transactions, recording a decrease of 40%.

Data shows that 92.5% of payments and transfers in April were conducted through digital channels, such as the bank’s online payment app QuickPay.

Users of the bank’s mobile banking application and QuickPay have increased by 40% and 22.3% in the past 12 months, most probably sparked by COVID.

BoC is backing a new service created by credit card clearing houses for cash withdrawals, allowing consumers to withdraw cash from tills at retail shops without visiting an ATM cash machine.