America’s banks are slowly vanishing

America’s bank tellers and the branches they work in are dwindling across the nation and that could spell trouble.

“We are at a historical low with the number of banks in our country,” said Florida Bankers Association CEO Alex Sanchez during an appearance on FOX Business’ “Mornings with Maria” on Friday. “I think we are not seeing the startup banks like we used to.”

Sanchez, who oversees one of Florida’s oldest trade associations, is putting the onus on the new Congress to address this issue. Democratic Representative Maxine Waters, who takes over as chair of the House Financial Services Committee in January, which oversees the banking industry, could help.

She could potentially slow Trump’s deregulatory efforts, or use her powers to look for ways to improve the economy, Sanchez said.

The total number of banks in the U.S. declined from around 19,000 in 1990 to about 5,000 in 2018, according to the FDIC.  And just last week, FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams sounded the alarm over the shortage saying there aren’t enough new banks opening up in the country.

“I do not profess to know what the right number of banks in the U.S. is, but I recognize that, like many competitive industries, a dynamic banking sector needs new startups entering the marketplace,” McWilliams wrote in an American Banker op-ed. “De novo banks are a key source of new capital, talent, ideas, and ways to serve customers.”

A de novo bank is the formation of new bank that is not acquired through purchase.

Trump has kept his campaign promise by cutting regulation, including rolling back some provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act—a banking reform bill put in place in wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

In October the Federal Reserve outlined a proposal that would benefit smaller banks, by creating a new set of criteria to decide which large banks are subject to the toughest regulations. According to senior fed officials, the changes can potentially increase lending if the proposed changes were implemented.

Sanchez said despite the scarcity of banks, it’s a competitive environment.

“The banks are in the business of lending. They want to lend—they don’t lend—they don’t eat,” he said. “So we want to lend, but to the right customer who has the right financials who can repay, obviously we don’t want to get back into a 08’ situation.”