About three months ago, Bank of America started sending emails and letters to their customers to notify them that their branch located at 8701 S. Western Blvd. in Los Angeles will be closing on Oct. 30th, 2018.
Notifications have also been sent out about the closure of the branch located on Crenshaw Boulevard in the heart of the Metro Crenshaw / LA Line construction.
Bank of America isn’t the only bank closing branches. Battered by the prolonged recession, banks began closing branches in the early 2000s worldwide. It has been reported that by 2018, banks started closing branches at a fasters pace.
The targets were branches in less profitable regions with fewer customers’ use of teller transactions. The banking industry exodus points to a global digital tipping point.
Colleen Haggerty, senior vice president of Media Relations at Bank of America, explains how technological innovations are transforming the way we bank.
“We constantly adapt our financial center network to fit clients’ changing needs and habits, and while the decision to close a financial center is a difficult one, it is driven primarily by changing banking behaviors as more and more clients use our online and mobile banking offerings,” said Haggerty in a written statement.
Haggerty said that customers will still have access to accounts and will have three full-services ATMS located at the Western Avenue site. She said Bank of America currently has 245 financial centers in Los Angeles County, including seven “within minutes” of the two centers scheduled to close.
The Western Avenue branch opened in 1953. Bank of America owns the property. After closure and a full decommission, the bank we will prepare the property for sale, said Haggerty.
Haggerty said the corporation plans on building a community room in their financial center located at 4301 Western Ave., just south of Martin Luther King Boulevard, for use by the public and nonprofits.
Bank of America recommends these alternative services to their customers:
• Online and Mobile Banking – checking account review, bill pay, money and money transfer for 24/7 review by using a computer, smartphone or tablet: bankofamerica.com/onlinebanking.
• Direct Deposits – to eliminate bank visits and for faster access to money: bankofamerica.com/directdeposit.
• Banking by phone – 24-hour automated service or help from an associate: (800) 432-1000
Customers with safe deposit boxes are urged to set up an appointment with the bank before the branch closes, even if the boxes are empty.
Although other branches will remain open, many customers are feeling short-changed. From financing a car to purchasing the proverbial American Dream (a home), branches like these have played a major role in urban centers. Many African Americans still aren’t comfortable with the digital business sphere.
“I won’t be able to go online to do my banking,” said Cecil Williams, 87. “I’m too old. I really like this bank. The tellers are nice and they know me,” he said. Williams said there is a branch near his home in Hawthorne, but this branch—staffed by many African Americans—gave him the sense of community he trusted.
“I think it’s horrible that they are moving out of the Black area,” said Deirdra Wasp. “It’s just as bad as when Walmart moved from the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. I’ve been a member (of this branch) for about two years now. I guess I will have to go to another branch.”
Wasp admits she does do some online banking, but majority of her banking is done inside a branch. She said she particularly wanted to open her son’s first banking account at the branch because he’s turning 16 and will be driving.
“I wanted him to have the experience of going to the bank and being responsible,’ said Wasp. “He’s just getting started. I wanted to teach him financial literacy. But everything is so automated now.”
Alan Belton, 65, is among those who believes that corporations target minority communities, first, when it comes to a reduction of services.
“They are also closing the Crenshaw / 54th branch,” said Belton. “It’s a really nice one. I think the closure is a conspiracy,” he said questioning the real reason for closure. “Once upon a time you could put money in a savings account and earn a little bit. Nowadays, your money goes in but nothing comes out. It might be time to get that tin can and bury it in the backyard.”