I learned today that Piraeus Bank are about to close a number of smaller branches, including the one in Spili, Rethymno, which has a huge catchment area, and which will cease trading from the beginning of next month. (Other members might think it a good idea to make enquiries about their own branches).
In a largely rural society, it’s bad news even for those local people who have learned to use internet banking and who have their own transport: in future they will have to travel to the big towns to make deposits, arrange insurances, and do all the various other bits of banking business which have been catered for locally until now.
But for the older people in the dozens of small communities between north and south coasts, who can’t manage to use an ATM never mind internet banking – people who have always travelled once or twice a month to the head village to withdraw cash using their bank books – it is devastating.
And of course there will be depressant knock-on effects – for the weekly market, the cafeneia, the supermarkets who have earned a little from the regular visits of the people from the feeder villages.
I’m assuming the closures are to do with the dodgy state of the Greek banking sector and/or Greece’s galloping attempt to cure its economic ills with electronification. The expansion of the e-business world, with its enormous implications for labour markets, is something for of which the west is at least aware, and to which industries and economists are addressing themselves.
But it seems to me that here it’s about the usual crisis mismanagement. Greece is trying to impose 21st century systems in a hurry, without planning, without consideration of the social context and the local implications in a country where internet penetration is still almost the lowest of all the EU countries.