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What does future hold for dwindling bank branches?

Comerica Bank to close another 16 branches

DETROIT – Comerica Bank announced it will close another 16 bank branches in addition to the 40 that were already closed.

While some analysts think this has more to do with Comerica than banking as a whole, most believe local bank branches are dwindling.

The introduction of the ATM is when the trend really started, as ways to deposit and withdraw money without a teller began.

Analysts feel like the corner bank branch isn't in danger of becoming extinct, but it does have to evolve.

In today's world, people can make mobile deposits, get cash from ATMs and even apply for loans online.

According to banking industry firm FMSI, there are 40 percent fewer branches than there were in 1991, with a predicted 25 percent further decline through 2018. But experts don't think they'll completely disappear.

"There will always be a group of people, when it comes to their money, they want to look you in the eye across the desk before they let their money go," said Jeff Kopelman.

Kopelman is president and CEO of Main Street Bank. He believes when someone walks into the bank these days, they need to be able to accomplish just about all of their financial goals.

"It's not just coming in and cashing a check or opening a checking account," Kopelman said. "Most of the branches now will offer some kind of loans. They may be consumer loans, mortgage loans or commercial lending. That way, you use your branch for a bigger advantage and it pays for itself."

It's led some banks to call their branches stores in an effort to offer more of an experience.

"I haven't been to my bank in a couple years, but I think there will always be a need for banks, if just for those personal relationships," Megan Ludwig said.

Another analyst said banking is actually a people business, and while technology is making it much easier, there will always be a need for a person to walk someone through a complicated transaction.

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