On their launch in 1988, Crédit Agricole’s "Points Verts" enabled people to withdraw cash at the same time as buying a loaf of bread. A true innovation at the time, the first "Points Verts" were launched in Centre Loire as well as in the Loire-Atlantique and Rhône departments.
The late 1980s saw a decrease in branch visits in small municipalities across France. The main activity of these outlets, sometimes open on market day only, concerned cash withdrawals in areas with no cash machines. The big issue was that closing these small branches would lead to a reduction in retail banking coverage in rural areas.
The "Points Verts" were launched to remedy this situation, a partnership being formed between Crédit Agricole and a retailer in a small country town, for example a baker. The latter provided cash withdrawal and cheque cashing services and also centralised requests for services and meetings at home with an adviser. The benefits were numerous. Crédit Agricole was able to maintain banking presence in rural areas prey to abandonment, thus fighting against “desertification” in France. Retailers were able to extend their service offering and thereby attract more potential customers. And the latter were able to withdraw cash close to home and benefited from longer opening hours than with their former branch.
The initiative proved an immediate success, helping to shake up the distribution model of Crédit Agricole, which once again demonstrated its closeness and territorial roots.
Overview of the creation of the "Points Verts" (source: Crédit Agricole S.A. Historical Archives - Fonds Crédit Agricole) :