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What a Bank Branch will be like in 2025!

The silence is profound even as I zip at incredible speeds down a road as smooth as glass. The car drives itself while I look through my activity log using my optical head-mounted smart eye-glasses. As I look up and down, sheets and reminders flicker across the periphery of my vision, and I plan my day. Today's Friday and I have a great deal to do—the beginning and the end of the week are perpetually busy days. That's one thing that hasn't changed in several hundreds of years.

An alert goes off suddenly, drawing my attention. As my smartwatch beeps, it syncs with my glasses and a virtual assistant pops up.
"Hi Tushar. You're near your bank and I thought I'd remind you that you can take care of your biannual security check today. It won't take long and it might be good to get it done early."
I agree. Work at bank branches is dramatically different in the year 2025. With a few voice commands, I redirect the car and take a very slight diversion towards my bank's branch. The building is a single-storied glass construct, gleaming in the afternoon sun. As I step up to the doors, they slide smoothly and silently aside. Inside, the wall to my right flickers and my bank assistant is projected onto the screen.
"Welcome back, Mr. Chitra," she says smoothly, a warm smile on her digital face. "Today is October 20, 2025. Your last visit was two months ago. It's good to see you again."
"A pleasure to see you as well, Cera." It took me a while to get used to these holographic assistants when the bank first introduced them, but now the technology's progressed so far that it feels like talking to a actual person.
"What brings you here today, Mr. Chitra?"
"My car," I respond, to which she laughs. These holograms have so many built in response mechanisms now, that very nearly all variations of conversation are smooth and natural.
"Well," she replies, "I hope the journey was pleasant. It's hot outside."
I nod. "It was, thank you. I received a notice from the bank—my biometrics need to be verified? It's been six months since my last security check."
"We could have sent someone to your house for that," Cera says. "You didn't have to come all the way to the branch."
"I know," I say, "but with the festival coming up, I also needed to take some of my wife’s jewellery from my locker. That, Cera, is something you still couldn’t do for me."
"Well, we're glad to have you. Why don't you take a seat while I send your request to the locker manager!"

As Cera gestures, I walk away and towards the seating area. A faint blip tells me that she's switched off until the next customer comes in. There are a dozen people here, perhaps a few more, but there's none of the hubbub that I remember from the previous incarnation of bank branches. Transactions take place with smart walls, or with tables whose glass surfaces function as tablets. The murmur of conversation comes either from people talking to themselves or from quiet conversations with each other. The atmosphere is serene, peaceful. As I sit down in a booth, a tiny, nondescript camera swivels to scan my face. I look at it—I know it's there, so I might as well make the process easier. A moment later, it pivots back into its former position and the wall and table before me light up with my details. I've always found the table displays too small, so I touch the data and push it forward. It slides out of view and then up on the wall, zooming so that I can see better.
"Would you like to complete the security check now, Mr. Chitra?" This is a different virtual assistant. A man this time; I can never remember his name.
It takes under a minute. First a fingerprint scan, then retinal patterns, and finally, facial feature mapping. The second it's done, my smartwatch beeps subtly, telling me that I've received a new message. It's a brief thank you note from the bank, for having completed the bi-annual security verifications so quickly after they sent me the notice.

"We've noticed that you've been using your mobile wallet a lot, sir," the virtual assistant says, "with the festive season coming up, would you like to take a look at some of the offers that we've prepared for you this season?"
I nod. Facial recognition and motion detection mean that I don't even have to respond to questions.
The assistant pulls up a series of offers with a number of clothing and gift brands. I gesture to a few of the coupons and my smartwatch beeps as it receives a series coupon codes.
"And," the assistant adds, "just so that you don't go overbudget this year, would you like me to lock your spending to a festival plan?"
I chuckle. Do something once and they'll never let you forget it. "What did you have in mind?"
"Your 2017 festival spending plan was a good one, I think, sir."
I think about that for a minute—and then agree with him. "Go ahead. Lock the festival plan in." Now not only do I have a decently-sized spending budget, but I'll also start getting alerts once I near or cross the spending limits for different categories. And these are categories and values that I set for myself eight years ago!
"Will that be all, sir?"
"Not just yet. I think I'll make a small transfer."
"Refueling on the way back, sir? We synced with your car as you pulled up into the parking lot and noticed that you were running close to empty."
I nod again. The screen on the table flickers and changes into the familiar ATM withdrawal screen—but light years ahead of the original. I tap out the amount and my PIN, check my smartwatch for the verification code, and punch that out too. My smartwatch beeps as the money's credited to my digital wallet. An SMS alert shows up at the same time and my eyeglasses tell me that I have a new email in my inbox.
"Now that's all."
"Very good, Mr. Chitra. Once again, a pleasure having you here."

As I get up, the virtual assistant disappears. As if on cue, the locker assistant, a flesh-and-blood one, arrives with his bunch of keys and accompanies me to the locker room, the only vestige of banks from the days of paper and plastic money. I take a few minutes to operate the locker and am ready to leave. A full-body scanner with in-built biometric recognition at the door of the locker room records my entry and exit.
On my way out, Cera asks after my family’s well-being and bids me adieu. Barely fifteen minutes at the bank, personalized service, no queues, higher security than ever, about three different types of interactions, and an experience that sees me leaving the bank with a smile on my face.

This is the bank branch of the future. A far cry from the banks in the late 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century-grim, forbidding establishments you’d dread visiting. I would love to hear your thoughts on what your bank will look like in years to come.


Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 03 December, 2014, 11:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Very futuristic and very possible. What is most intresting is that three different types of interactions have been executed in fifteen minutes, completely and securely, without the hassles of queueing up or filling out lengthy forms. Time has been saved without sacrificing efficiency ! This is surely the bank of the future - catering to the whole spectrum of needs - latent, inherent and incipient, with a personal, albeit virtual, touch. Here's to 2025 !

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 06 January, 2015, 06:15Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Tushar, It is a great set of scenarios but too impersonal for me I'm afraid. And why have a branch dedicated to this? It could well be part of a retail store or a shared service area. I liked the hint of home banking which I already witnessed in progress in India, but is not yet available in many developed countries.

Interestingly in a move to win back customers, here is how Santander put a person INTO an ATM machine: 

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