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January 2024: Banking buzz with Truist shrinkage and Fiserv charter

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TLDR

In this month’s roundup of top banking news: Truist Financial plans to close 4% of its branch network, Fiserv applies for a special purpose bank charter, and Wells Fargo awards a $1,000 bonus to lower-paid employees. Regions Financial reported $135 million in check fraud losses last year, mostly due to a change in its deposit holding policy. Truist Financial will close around 80 branches in March as part of its cost-cutting initiative. Industry Bancshares, a Texas-based bank heavily exposed to rising interest rates, is in a dispute with its regulator, the OCC. Fintech firms that provide banking-as-a-service (BaaS) accounted for a disproportionate number of enforcement actions in 2023, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Banks are facing a rise in problem gambling due to increased mobile sports betting, with gamblers using cash advances on credit cards to fund their habit. Bank of America will take a temporary $1.6 billion hit to its earnings due to the use of a short-lived interest rate index. Fiserv has applied for a special purpose bank charter in Georgia to expand its payment processing services. Wells Fargo is awarding a $1,000 bonus to lower-paid employees, which coincides with a unionization push at the bank. HSBC is launching a money-transfer app called Zing to compete with fintech companies like Revolut and Wise. The CFPB’s proposal to cut overdraft fees exempts small banks that rely heavily on these fees for their profits.

Truist Financial

Truist Financial has announced that it plans to close around 80 branches, or 4% of its branch network, in March. The closures are part of the bank’s $750 million cost-cutting initiative. Truist has merged its consumer and wholesale payments businesses, reduced the size of its board of directors, and hired new executives as part of its restructuring efforts.

Regions Financial

Regions Financial has reported $135 million in check fraud losses, mostly due to a change in its deposit holding policy. The bank inadvertently invited a surge in check fraud by attempting to become more customer-friendly in terms of deposit availability

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