Oxford review of economic policy vol:20 issue:4 pages:571-590
We review how technological advances and changes in regulation may shape the (future) geographical scope of banking. We first review how both physical distance and the presence of borders currently affect bank lending conditions (loan pricing and credit availability) and market presence (branching and servicing). Next we discuss how technology and regulation have altered this impact and analyse the current state of the European banking sector. We discuss both theoretical contributions and empirical work and highlight open questions along the way. We draw three main lessons from the current theoretical and empirical literature: (i) bank lending to small businesses in Europe may be characterized both by (local) spatial pricing and resilient (regional and/or national) market segmentation; (ii) because of informational asymmetries in the retail market, bank mergers and acquisitions seem the optimal route of entering another market, long before cross-border servicing or direct entry are economically feasible; and (iii) current technological and regulatory developments may, to a large extent, remain impotent in further dismantling the various residual but mutually reinforcing frictions in the retail banking markets in Europe. We conclude the paper by offering pertinent policy recommendations based on these three lessons.