Banking System in Germany
Germany's banking system includes four major types of institutions, and there are some important distinctions between them
Firstly, there are private commercial banks. These banks control almost half of all German assets and finance most of Germany's international trade. And within that sector, Deutsche Bank reigns supreme, being the 11th biggest bank worldwide.
However, private banks don't dominate the retail banking sector. The three largest private banks control 15% of the retail sector, but they are rivaled by public sector and cooperative banks - not to mention so-called "free" banks.
The public banks are divided into Sparkassen (local savings banks, don’t confuse with the name of big German bank Sparkasse!) and Landesbanken (regional banks). Seven Landesbanks operate in German regions, while smaller Sparkassen tend to operate in particular cities or urban areas.
Also known as Raiffeisenbanken, cooperative institutions are the final major group, and there are around 1,000 across Germany.
Both coops and public banks tend to cater for local communities and aren't usually focused on international visitors. But they are seen as more reliable and less risky, and some are moving toward more outward-looking strategies.
How many banks are there in Germany?
According to national statistics, there are 1,900 banks in Germany, including 1,000 cooperative banks, 403 Sparkassen, and far smaller numbers of private banks and Landesbanken. That works out as 1 bank branch for every 2,500 Germans - a very high number of branches by international standards.
However, while bank numbers are high, they have been declining in recent years. The rise of mobile banking and the internet have accelerated branch closures, albeit from a much higher level.