The Branch’s Love/Hate Relationship with Technology

by Brian Bailey, NCR Corporation.

Technology has killed the bank branch.

You’ve heard this refrain before. Online banking. Intelligent deposit ATMs. Mobile banking. The future of mobile wallets. These technologies that make our lives easier supposedly have made the bank branch irrelevant. A dinosaur from bygone days. The financial services equivalent of the movie rental store or disco. Tower Group estimates that global teller transactions have decreased by 31 percent in the past 10 years, and forecasts an additional 15 percent decline by 2015. Bloggers such as Bank 2.0’s Brett King have declared the branch dead because … hey … you’ve got a mobile phone.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

That’s true when it comes to branch’s love/hate relationship with technology. In fact, technology has not killed the bank branch. Technology is the future of the bank branch.

First, though, as a banking industry, we need to unlearn our expectations of technology as standalone silos of consumer interaction. The world is going from monolithic ATMs standing alone outside of a branch or in a vestibule or a drive through, to a dynamic convergence of physical and digital channels. Working together, this new experience simplifies consumer transactions and creates new opportunities for bottom-line optimization and top-line growth.

Consider the work we’re doing with Wells Fargo to reimagine their bank branches. By intersecting physical design, customer and team member interaction, and technology, Wells Fargo is creating a new, smaller-footprint neighborhood bank format that allows the bank to put stores in convenient locations for their customers – areas that couldn’t previously accommodate a traditional larger size branch. Wells Fargo – who is clearly a pioneer when it comes to technology innovation – is also leveraging technology to empower its employees and provide better, faster service for customers.

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