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Spare the technological hagiography. What Apple are good at is taking existing technologies and dumbing them down so that the average joe can understand them, then selling them on to Joe at a brand premium... at least until the rest of the market catches
What this tells us in Banking is to keep it simple and make it work.
It is also interesting that Apple saw the need to set up their own branches (Apple stores) to sell their products. Shows that the Branch is very important and people still like to do things face to face.
You argue that banking needs to be simple to work. I fully agree.
There's only one problem - when you simplify it, as needs be, then the 'branch' which is theoretically for high-touch, complex products, reduces in importance for day-to-day banking.
Let's think about the mounting evidence:
1. Cheques in terminal decline
2. Cash in decline
3. Banked engagement levelling off in developed economies, underbanked growing through pre-paid debit cards, etc
4. Mobile and Internet banking engagement rapidly growing in utilization
5. Branch engagement shrinking at 6-10% per year on average
6. Average customer visits to branch declining rapidly
7. Increasing workarounds getting traction due to slow innovation (PayPal, Square, Google Wallet, etc)
The evidence suggests that the future will be painful. A broad defense of branch activity either means we're not prepared for the future, we think consumer behavior will suddenly change and reverse course, or that this fuss around customer engagement is
Apple stores succeeded because they had cool and aspirational products, but even today Apple still sells more iPads through their online store than their physical points of presence. The reality is that banking products are neither cool nor aspirational,
and not being physical are poor fits to physical distribution.
When we move to simplify banking - it will be a move to integrate banking into our customers lives without the friction we present today, and branches will inevitably be a victim of that friction.
But don't worry - you still have a few years left to enjoy the sunset of the branch network.
Enjoy it while it lasts!
CEO & Founder
14 Apr 2010
This post is from a series of posts in the group:
A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.