A brick-and-mortar bank battle is brewing in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the nation’s banking giants are ready to duke it out.
Thanks to a history of friendly regulations and a hunger for credit during industrialization in the South, Charlotte is currently the second biggest banking town in the U.S. Today, the Queen City is an attractive alternative for talented bankers and has rapidly expanded its population to around 870,000, about double the size of Atlanta and about 10 times smaller than the No. 1 city for banking, New York City.
Charlotte has already been the home of Bank of America (BAC) and a regional hub for Wells Fargo (WFC), but will soon also become the prized target of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and U.S. Bank (USB), rival megabanks looking to open branches in the city for the first time. And familiar faces in town, SunTrust (STI) and BB&T (BBT), are in the process of a merger that will create a new banking giant in the South with a new name: Truist, which will plant its flag in Charlotte with a new headquarters.
Branches are becoming less popular as customers increasingly turn to mobile banking. An S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis showed that 1,947 U.S. bank branches shuttered in 2018, almost double the amount of branches that closed six years earlier, in 2012.
But the bank branch brawl in Charlotte highlights a new strategy at the big banks: aggressively opening new branches at volumes that smaller banks could not compete with in order to build brand recognition and take market share from the other big banks across the street.
As bank consolidation leads to the same big players across all corners of the U.S., the fight in Charlotte could be telling for the future of big bank competition in the whole country.
Jockeying for the crown in the ‘Queen City’
Bank of America is by far the tallest of the giants in Charlotte. At 871 feet, Bank of America’s headquarters literally towers over the city, and edges out the second-tallest building, the Duke Energy Tower (which Wells Fargo actually owns), by 85 feet.
Source: Yahoo Finance