As of 1 Jan 2013, there were 7,059 monetary financial institutions (MFIs) – a category which includes commercial and savings banks, post office banks, credit unions and similar types of businesses, as well as money market funds – resident in the euro area, compared with 7,533 a year earlier.
A “substantial decrease in the number of money market funds” since 2011 was mentioned by the ECB as contributing significantly to the overall fall in MFI numbers, which it said was partly due to a new definition being used to classify these entities by the ECB. At the end of 2012, there were 519 fewer money market funds in the euro zone than there were two years earlier, the ECB reported, noting that the declines in this area occurred "most prominently in Luxembourg (-128) and France (-184)".
The overall declines in monetary financial institutions last year were most pronounced in Slovakia, where the number of MFIs fell 30%, and Luxembourg, where they fell 22%.
Declines were also seen in France, Spain and Finland, the ECB said.
Malta bucks trend
Two countries bucked the downward trend in 2012, including Malta, which saw the number of monetary financial institutions operating within its borders rise by 3%, and Portugal, where the number grew by 0.6%.
The decline in euro zone monetary financial institutions has continued in spite of the admission to the zone, since 2007, of a number of countries that were not part of the initial entry into the single currency bloc, which was launched on 1 Jan 1999. One of these was Malta, which joined in 2008; Slovenia, Cyprus, and Estonia were also late-comers.
In its statement, the ECB noted that the number of MFIs has dropped by 28%, or by a total of 2,797 institutions, since 1 January 1999.
As of 1 Jan, Germany and France accounted for 41.9% of all MFIs in the euro zone area, according to the ECB data; Italy, Austria, Ireland and Luxembourg accounted for a further 35.3%.
Among the "noteworthy" developments that have occurred since 1999 has been the "significant increase", of 477 monetary financial institution entities, in Ireland, the ECB noted.
"At the same time there were relatively large falls of 59%, 46% and 42% respectively, in the Netherlands, France and Germany, and lesser declines in Spain (37%), Luxemburg (36%), Portugal (30%), Greece (27%) and Belgium (24%)."
Among the non-euro area EU member states, Poland had the largest number of MFIs (696), representing 8% of MFIs in the EU, or 35% of MFIs in that sub-group of EU members.
As for foreign branches, as of 1 Jan, there were 623 branches of non-domestic credit institutions resident in the euro area.
These, the ECB noted, "accounted for 10% of all euro area credit institutions," with Belgium, Estonia, Slovakia and Greece having "the largest number of foreign branches as a proportion of the total number of credit institutions".
To see the ECB report, click here.