First Merchants in Indiana to close 17 branches

First Merchants in Muncie, Ind., is planning to close 17 branches.

The $13.7 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that the branches are located in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. The plan is to shutter the locations by April 30.

The branches represent about 13% of the First Merchants locations that existed on June 30. company said its customers had been increasingly using digital banking services, noting that the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated the trend.

First Merchants said it will use savings from the closures to improve how it delivers banking services, including digital banking and in-branch technology, early next year. The company said it will “enhance” its ATM network by the end of 2021.

The company also said it will streamline interactions in its remaining branches by using a universal banker model.

“This transformation starts with significant investment in digital banking and in-branch technology,” Michael Rechin, First Merchants’ president and CEO, said in the release.

“We view banking centers as an important part of our delivery network, and as the role of the banking center changes, we will advance our digital and physical network and ensure our bankers are fully empowered with knowledge to meet the evolving needs of clients,” Rechin added.

First Merchants said it will incur $5 million in expenses tied to the closures.

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