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Banking in a Shipping Container

A branch in a box? What would you do if you had a used shipping container?

Weird as it may sound it's actually on my wish list – and my hypothetical container will be converted into a fortified shelter in the event of a doomsday scenario (a story better told in a different forum). Some people have actually converted these containers into housing,  storage facilities,  fast food restaurants, and even a Starbucks cafe. There is even a complete shopping park in the UK made of containers.

What about converting a shipping container into a bank branch? That's exactly what Rizal Microbank, a thrift bank in the Philippines, just did.

It was a pleasant surprise to see what they had done with the interior. I would be happy to work or bank in it! It does not look like a container at all but a place that employees are proud to call their workplace. After all, if it can be made into a Starbucks cafe, why not a stylish office with all the facilities expected of a regular office?

And this is not just a gimmick – there are serious commercial benefits to Rizal Microbank’s move:

  1. The cost of building it is slashed. For Rizal Microbank, it costs one-third to one-half of building a normal branch office.
  2. Put the container on a set of wheels and it's mobile – servicing a number of locations instead of having to put up a branch network.
  3. It’s extensible – if the branch proves too small, add another container on top/to the side.
  4. And lastly, it's green! It's recycled from rotting, rusting, and unused containers.

Rizal Microbank has an opportunity here to incorporate state of the art technology into their converted container, to provide a really unique and differentiated experience.

Install a wifi connection and arm some tellers with tablets, they can connect to their system via the internet and do cashless transactions such as deposit cheques, make international payments, and for those that cannot or will not do transactions online, mobile tellers can help customers pay off utility bills, transfer money from one account to another, or even open a term deposit.

Put in a biometrics system and transactions can be authenticated.

Set up a wireless printer and print transaction advices, issue drafts and bank cheques.

Set up a passbook printer to print passbook updates.

With an entrepreneurial attitude and thinking outside of the box – literally! – I don't see why shipping containers can't eventually become a fully-fledged bank branch that can come and go as required.


Image below from: The Filipino Connection



Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 19 November, 2013, 13:37Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes I have seen something similar deployed in South Africa by Standard Bank. To be honest - is this an idea to be restricted to emerging markets? Given the level of branch closures this kind of idea might be appealing (at least from a PR perspective) for established banks in the developed world to get back into the community for the elderly and youth markets who may be limited by transportation Infrastructure and cannot travel to major towns/cities. Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) used to offer a "Datacenter" in a shipping container many moons ago, not sure if it is still on sale.
Chris Errington
Chris Errington - None - London 19 November, 2013, 13:41Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

We are moving office and here is something from the past I was prompted to share.

Disaster Recovery in a shipping container... 


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