Customers of HSBC branches that will be closing their doors by the end of the year are surprised and disappointed by the “terrible news”, with many saying they are worried about the elderly community.
“This comes as a surprise to me since the Ħamrun branch is always packed with people whenever I come,” said an 81-year-old woman soon after stepping out of the branch on Thursday morning.
She had not yet heard the news, announced a few hours earlier, that HSBC will be closing eight branches in Malta - Birżebbuġa, Cospicua, Fgura, Ħamrun, Marsascala, St Julian’s and St Paul's Bay – by the end of 2019.
The Balzan branch will also close and be combined into a new 'flagship branch' in Qormi. The bank said it would maintain a self-service ATM and deposit machines in any locality where a branch would close.
It’s strange how they would close this branch. I see a lot of elderly people coming here like me.
Times of Malta spoke to people outside the popular Ħamrun branch so see what they think. The 81-year-old woman said that, thankfully, she received her pension at home and only went to the bank a few times a year.
However, she knew people who depended on the services of the bank to cash and deposit their money.
Concern for the elderly
One 79-year-old woman struggled to get out of the car that stopped her right in front of the bank. As she tried to balance her walking stick and her handbag, she eventually managed to step onto the pavement with the help of a passer-by.
“Oh what a pity that this bank is closing. I come all the way from Santa Venera to cash my pension cheque. I find it convenient. It’s always so busy here. It’s strange how they would close this branch. I see a lot of elderly people coming here like me,” she said adding that she did not use internet banking because she did not know how.
A 74-year-old man from Ħamrun heard the news about some branches closing and headed to the bank to confirm the rumour.
“My son called me this morning and told me. I was about the check, but you’re answering my question. I’m surprised to hear Ħamrun will close. At the moment, I’m still mobile enough to go to whichever bank they’ll relocate my account to. But what will happen when I get older? I hope they do something for the elderly,” he said.
The hassle of relocating accounts
Meanwhile, a 69-year-old man, who turned up at the bank for help because he was struggling with internet banking, said that while he only went to the bank when he absolutely had to, he had an account at the Ħamrun branch and did not feel like the hassle of relocating to another branch.
This is really bad news... I have an account here and every time I need to withdraw money I come to this bank.
One woman, 43. said this was terrible news for her. “This is really bad news. Life is always throwing things at me. I have an account here and every time I need to withdraw money I come to this bank. I don’t drive and I’d have to catch a bus to go to another bank when, at the moment, it’s walking distance.
“I don’t own a card and I’m not too literate in English. So having an ATM here doesn’t help people like me. I just don’t feel like the hassle of having to find a new system and a branch,” she said.