One-man bank keeps german village business running

GAMMESFELD, Germany – Peter Breiter, 41, is an eccentric banker. Not for him the large bonuses, complicated financial instruments and multi-million deals.
He is happy instead writing transaction slips out by hand for the 500 inhabitants of the small southern German village of Gammesfeld.

“Why would I use a cash machine?” reported Friedrich Feldmann, a customer sitting in the bank’s little waiting room on his once-weekly visit to withdraw cash. “They cost money anyway.”

The Raiffeisen Gammesfeld eG cooperative bank in southern Germany is one of the country’s 10 smallest banks by deposits and is the only one to be run by just one associate of staff.

little banks like this dominate the German banking landscape. Rooted in communities, they propose a limited range of accounts and loans to personal and local business customers.

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While numbers have shrunk from around 7,000 in the 1970s to around 1,100 now, cooperative banks like Raiffeisen Gammesfeld provide competition for Germany’s two largest banks – Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.

A typical day’s work for Breiter involves providing villagers with cash for their day-to-day needs and arranging little loans for local businesses. Not to remark cleaning the one-story building that houses the bank, which is 200 metres from his own front door.

Moving from a bigger bank, where it was all “sell, sell, sell”, Gammesfeld-born Breiter says taking up this job in 2008 was the best decision he ever made.


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