Haapsalu Leaders Up in Arms Against Bank's Plan to End Cash Operations
Members of Haapsalu City Council and representatives from surrounding municipalities have sent Swedbank's CEO Priit Perens a protest letter against an impending cut in services at the bank's branch in the resort town.
"We inform you that the comments made by western Estonia regional director Egon Jekabson to the newspaper Lääne Elu justifying discontinuing cash services and currency exchange have only decreased confidence in the bank you manage. Above all, Swedbank negatively impacts people who are socioeconomically not as well off, as well as business people and foreign tourists," they wrote.
The comments by Jekabson referred to what he saw as the marginal importance of this town of less than 10,000.
"How many airplanes take off from Haapsalu? How many cruise ships set sail from here?" he said.
The bank currently has eight branches countrywide that do not handle cash. Four more branches will become cash-free on June 9, including the one in Haapsalu, one in Jõgeva and two in Tallinn.
Swedbank says the branch in Haapsalu gets fewer than 3,000 visits a month.
Competitor SEB says it will keep existing cash services in place in Lääne County, which surrounds Haapsalu.
The move by Swedbank has been criticized by both local businessmen and the Center Party, which has called for a boycott of Swedbank.
The Bank of Estonia says it is the bank's prerogative as a business to shift its service profile to the market situation, and called on businessmen to initiate dialogue with the bank.