For most of us, visiting a bank means visiting a branch. Obviously, we do not need to visit the head office of a bank for simple tasks, or for that matter even a crucial requirement. Branches play a vital role for customer interaction and ensure seamless service. Though there are various other modes like ATM, Internet banking and mobile banking including customer service through phone banking, most customers are happy to visit a branch as it has a human touch. With the advent of new technologies and innovations, the future of a branch will change drastically. Listed below are some of the expectations that will arise for the branch:
Automation: As many feared, automation and robotic processes will eliminate redundant jobs across industries, and this is applicable for the banking industry as well. Especially simple jobs like accepting cash, printing statements and passbooks etc., can be automated. In the future, when you visit a branch for any of these automated tasks, you may be assisted by robots! Also, branches use robotic and machine learning services to carry out jobs like lobby management, request acceptance and guiding customers to the respective service oriented counters/desks.
Electronic Branches: Even today, we can do several transactions at the ATM. Banks are extending their ATMs as electronic branches. At present, most of the electronic branches are mapped with the branches next to them. In an electronic branch as well you can carry out transactions like withdrawals, deposits, statement printing and video conferencing with a customer service officer. Perhaps in the future, electronic branches will be extended even to carry out specific services with the intervention of bio-metric authentication. Users can initiate a transaction through mobile or Internet banking, generate a transaction reference number, authenticate it in an electronic branch using bio-metrics, and complete the authorization of the transaction after uploading a specific set of documents. For example, a customer who wishes to get a demand draft payable at some location, has to visit a branch or place a request online, and same will be couriered to the address. In the future through electronic branches, the customer can place the transaction through online or mobile banking, visits the e-branch, after multiple authentications, the demand draft will be printed through a machine and delivered to the customer on the spot.
Analytics: Even right now, branches are using analytics for most things, however, going forward behavioral analytics will play a key role, based on customers’ transactions over time, branch employees will be advised to suggest suitable products like loan, mutual fund, insurance etc.
Conclusion: Banks are investing a lot in the digital space and other channels, but it doesn’t mean that the significance/number of branches will be reduced to a great extent. Though machine learning, automation and other tools help banks in reducing costs, human intervention in banking transactions is still required as branches contribute quite a lot to a bank’s revenue through cross selling. Banks do not want to lose out on those revenue opportunities. Even though the demographics of the branch might change, wealth management will be an area of focus, as most resources will be involved in non-redundant jobs, and will be able to focus on growth parameters.