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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Barclays ditches branch cashiers for 'community bankers'

As customers increasingly carry out basic transactions online, Barclays is ditching the old-fashioned branch cashier, retraining staff as 'community bankers'.

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Barclays Community Bankers same as Apple Genius Bar

Whilst some similarities exist, Barclays Community Bankers look to have a more rounded offering when added to the Barclays Digital Eagles. This is different and has the opportunity to be more compelling.

The bank looks to be extending the customer relationship beyond the branch, the phone, and, beyond the apps on your phablet - with actual people fronting the service. The three key elements to this change?

1. Context is king
The industrialisation and subsequent automation of roles in banking is leading to more creativitity and flair in branch operations - which in turn will focus more on community relationships and the eventual return of a 'Branch Manager'. These people working with the community bankers can better understand the context of the risk and mediate between the corporate and community risk of small business loans for example.

2. The right side of the FSA
Customer acquisition and qualification for banks in a digital world is tough. Getting customers to read through and concientiously accept the T&Cs / default clauses is tougher - but essential to avoiding Ombudsmen actions. How many times have you merely scrolled through the T&C's or permissions granted to a newly installed App to find the accept button? Having a digital log of only spending 5 seconds reading a loan T&Cs could lead to the bank being brought up on mis-selling charges. The Digital Eagles and Community Bankers can help avoid this.

3. Avoiding the switch
Bank account switching has been made easier already, and with number portability will get easier still. Once combined with the bland bank comparison route we're headed down its a race to the bottom (of profitability). The approach Barclays are taking might well make the difference between where people choose to bank creating sustainable and profitable relationships.

The bloated estates that banks carry in branches will continue to get squeezed but I do hope they get replaced by venues where more relevant conversations and relationships can be generated. Apple raised the game with the Genius Bar, the Barclays approach has the potential to take things further in customer retention, acquisition, risk management and the local community.

Banking relationships are about to change

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