Branch Banking Is Dying
The 2008-09 financial crisis was triggered by reckless banking practices that dominoed into the global economic system.
Though the world has since recovered and moved on from the crash, the banking system that ignited such damage has in some ways never been the same.
Take U.S. branch bank net openings, which is undergoing a notable trend reversal. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), for 11 years and counting, the number of U.S. bank branch closings has exceeded the number of branch openings.
There are fewer banks in America with every passing year—in 2020 alone, a deficit of 1,537 branches was recorded, almost 2% of the roughly 85,000 branches in the country.
Branching Towards Digital
Unsurprisingly, the fall in branch banking coincides with the adoption of digital activity in the banking space. And this is especially true for younger, tech-savvy generations.
Undoubtedly, convenience is a big factor, as now nearly 50% of traditional branch banking activity can be conducted online. As a result, mobile banking activity occurs most frequently on one’s couch or bed.
The Good Ol’ Days
The decline in the number of branch banks also reflects the overall downturn of the broader banking industry. In that, the industry faces a slew of challenges including:
1. Contracting net interest margins
Net interest margins are the difference between the interest income generated for financial institutions and the amount they pay to lenders.
2. Fintech industry disruption
Fintech is bridging the gap between finance and digitization, sleek modern technologies enable firms to optimize financial services and the customer experience.
3. More stringent reserve ratio regulations
Reserve ratios are a portion of reserves that a financial institution must hold onto rather than invest or lend.
Investors are fleeing to other avenues as is evident in the stock price performance of the big U.S. banks. As a result, underperformance has been a common theme in the last decade.
|Number of U.S. Branches||Stock Price Performance |
(Jan 2011 - Jan 2021)
|Change Relative to S&P 500|
|Bank of America||4,265||116%||-75%|
What Lies Ahead
Yet, despite the progress towards digital banking, the U.S. is still a laggard. For instance, large cohorts of Americans still use cash as a frequent transaction method, while the country’s mobile payment penetration rates are lower than most developed nations.
As a percentage of smartphone users, 29% of Americans have adopted mobile payments. A tepid figure relative to Denmark at 41%, and India at 37%.
America’s fierce economic rival, China, has a whopping 81% of smartphone users that have adopted mobile payments. That’s 801 million people, compared to America’s 69 million. Adjusting for population disparities, China still has 2.7x more mobile payment users.
If the U.S. follows on the path of other more fintech savvy countries, visiting a bank branch and using physical cash may become as increasingly antiquated as writing a check is today.
AWS: Powering the Internet and Amazon’s Profits
Amazon is best known for its sprawling ecommerce empire, but three-quarters of the company’s profits actually come from cloud computing.
AWS: Powering the Internet and Amazon’s Profits
The Amazon growth story has been a remarkable one so far.
On the top line, the company has grown every single year since its inception. Even in going back to 2004, Amazon generated a much more modest $6.9 billion in revenue compared to the massive $469 billion for 2021.
Most of these sales come from their retail and ecommerce operations, which the company has come to be known for. However, on the bottom line, the source of profit paints a completely different picture. That’s because 74% of Amazon’s operating profit comes from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Here’s a closer look at the financials around Amazon and AWS:
|Year||AWS Operating Profit ($B)||Total Operating Profit ($B)||AWS % of Operating Profit||Revenue ($B)|
Ultimately, the data suggests that the cloud business has been, and possibly will always remain, a higher margin business and consistent profit center in comparison to ecommerce and the physical distribution of goods.
A Glance at AWS
AWS is Amazon’s cloud computing service that provides the critical infrastructure for an assortment of applications like data storage and networking. With this, they help fuel over a million organizations including businesses like Twitter and Netflix and even both the U.S. and Canadian Federal Governments.
Here are some other notable entities and the monthly payments they’ve made towards AWS:
|AWS Customer||Monthly Payments ($M)|
Source: Continho (2020)
Based on these monthly figures from 2020, AWS collects $1.3 billion in sales a year just from these 10 customers, while raking in $62 billion of revenue overall. Moreover, this makes them the leader in the competitive cloud market.
In an industry worth an excess of $180 billion, Amazon’s 33% market share position exceeds both Google and Microsoft (Azure) combined. Their market share also surpasses the bottom six shown on the chart combined, who are formidable tech giants in their own right.
The Future of AWS?
AWS has been a cash cow for years and there have even been rumors of an Amazon split up, where AWS would spin off as its own entity. It’s believed by some that if the cloud segment of the business separates, it will be seen as a pure play on the cloud industry and will be awarded a higher valuation multiple by the market.
One thing is for sure, from the perspective of profits, Amazon could be better be described as a cloud company, with an ecommerce business on the side.
Ranked: These Are 10 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets
An analysis of 90+ major cities reveals which ones are the least affordable housing markets based on their price-to-income ratio.
These Are 10 of the World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets
It’s become increasingly difficult for middle-class families to purchase a home over the last few years—and the global pandemic has only made things worse.
According to Demographia’s 2022 Housing Affordability Report, the number of housing markets around the world deemed “severely unaffordable” increased by 60% compared to 2019 (prior to the pandemic).
This graphic looks at some of the least affordable housing markets across the globe, relative to median household income. The report covers 92 different cities in eight nations: Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Least Affordable Housing Markets
Before diving in, it’s worth outlining the methodology used in this report, to help explain what’s classified as a severely unaffordable housing market.
To calculate affordability, a city’s median housing price and divided by its median household income. From there, a city is given a score:
- A score of 5.1 or above is considered severely unaffordable
- 4.1 to 5.0 is considered seriously unaffordable
- 3.1 to 4.0 is considered moderately unaffordable
All the cities on this graphic are classified as severely unaffordable—and, for the 12th year in a row, Hong Kong takes the top spot as the world’s most unaffordable housing market, with a score of 23.2.
|Hong Kong||🇭🇰 Hong Kong (SAR)||23.2|
|Sydney, NSW||🇦🇺 Australia||15.3|
|Vancouver, BC||🇨🇦 Canada||13.3|
|San Jose, CA||🇺🇸 U.S.||12.6|
|Melbourne, VIC||🇦🇺 Australia||12.1|
|Honolulu, HI||🇺🇸 U.S.||12.0|
|San Francisco, CA||🇺🇸 U.S.||11.8|
|Auckland, AUK||🇳🇿 New Zealand||11.2|
|Los Angeles, CA||🇺🇸 U.S.||10.7|
|Toronto, ON||🇨🇦 Canada||10.5|
One reason for Hong Kong’s steep housing costs is its lack of supply, partly due to its lack of residential zoning—which only accounts for 7% of the region’s zoned land. For context, 75% of New York City’s land area is dedicated to residential housing.
Sydney moved up one spot this year, making it the second most expensive city to purchase a home on the list, with a score of 15.3. Besides Hong Kong, no other city has scored this high in the last 18 years this report has been released.
There are several theories for Sydney’s soaring housing rates, but industry expert Tom Forrest, CEO of Urban Taskforce Australia, boils it down to one fundamental issue in an interview with Australia Broker—supply isn’t keeping up with demand:
“Housing supply has been consistently not meeting demand in the Greater Sydney and across regional New South Wales…if you have supply consistently not meeting demand then the price will go up. That’s what happened and we’re seeing it in abundance.”Tom Forrest, CEO of Urban Taskforce Australia
The COVID-19 Impact
Middle-income earners were already feeling the squeeze prior to the global pandemic, but COVID-19 only exacerbated housing affordability issues.
As people began to work from home, high-income earners started to look for more spacious housing that wasn’t necessarily in the city center, driving up demand in suburban areas that were relatively affordable prior to the pandemic.
At the same time, supply chain issues and material costs impacted construction, which created a perfect storm that ultimately drove housing prices up.
But with interest rates rising and COVID-19 restrictions easing around the world, some experts are predicting a market cool down this year—at least in some parts of the world.
>>Like this? Then you might like this article: How Much Prime Real Estate Could You Buy for $1M?
Misc2 weeks ago
Visualizing Which Countries Drink the Most Beer
Demographics4 weeks ago
Ranked: The 20 Countries With the Fastest Declining Populations
Personal Finance2 weeks ago
Mapped: The Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities
Energy3 weeks ago
Visualizing the World’s Largest Oil Producers
Energy2 weeks ago
Which Countries Produce the Most Natural Gas?
Agriculture4 weeks ago
Timeline: The Domestication of Animals
Business3 weeks ago
Ranked: The World’s Largest Container Shipping Companies
Misc5 days ago
Brand Loyalty is Declining for Most Luxury Automakers