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Three Strikes for Branch Banking

24 August 2012  |  4565 views  |  2

Thus, if you’re a bank, by 2015 your #1 channel for day-to-day retail banking will be Mobile, then Web, then the ATM, then Call Centre, and at #5, Branch.” – says Brett King, bestselling author and founder of Movenbank. He also predicts that his children might never need to see the inside of a branch when they’re older.

A leading research firm declares mobile banking a more important innovation than the credit card or even the ATM!

That’s a spectacular comeback for a channel, which failed to make a mark in its debut. So what is it about mobile banking, other than the obvious advantages of convenience and cost that is now enabling it to surge ahead of other channels, especially the branch?

The list is long, but here are our top three picks.

It’s the best way to reach Gen Y, the customers of the future

Social researcher Hugh Mackay puts it succinctly: “Their (millennials’) expectation is that if they want something, it is there.” This is the generation of immediate gratification, even when it comes to banking. Gen Y’ers see no point in visiting the branch, when they can access their bank accounts on their smartphones instantly… all of them, in multiple banks, on a single screen, to boot! Which branch can promise that?

Gen Y’ers can manage without their wallets, but not without their mobile phones. Indeed, for them the mobile is not just a phone, but an all consuming device, which is their window to social media – their virtual hangout, and the “go to” forum for advice on every subject under the sun, banking included. Social networks are where Gen Y’ers influence and get influenced. Mobile banking enables banks to be present on those all-influential networks.

It’s the best source of customer insight

With mobile banking, not only is it easier to study how consumers bank, but also track their mobile behavior in its entirety:  social interactions, personal indulgences, and financial and non-financial transactions.  In contrast to branch banking, which enables banks to understand people as customers, mobile banking enables them to understand customers as people.  

It’s the device of new technologies

There is a view that someday in the future, banking will be about downloading a mobile app; it will also be about doing much more than pure banking transactions. Technologies like augmented reality will change the nature and scope of the banking experience with their exciting possibilities. One example: a monthly statement that enables the customer to connect with a relationship manager for a complete audio visual analysis of its contents – top spends, frequent transactions, avenues of improvement, and so on.  Catch a branch being able to do that, month after month, for each of its customers!

Comments: (3)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 27 August, 2012, 16:15

On the same day I read this article, I receive my bank statement which says "to update your email address, please visit our branch". Just another irony of e/m-Banking, I guess. 

I remember reading a recent article in Finextra, according to which GenY visit branches, but find them closed. 

The relative lack of traction for bank-run P2FM services is often ascribed to the unwillingness of their customers to even share their banking transactions with other banks with them. Not sure how many of them would like their banks to know their social interactions and non-banking transactions - even assuming a mobile banking app made all that possible.

According to the World Retail Banking Report 2012 co-authored by Cap Gemini and EFMA, customers are viewing the branch and Internet as the two most important channels of retail banking worldwide. IMHO, each channel has its own strengths. There's enough room for all of them to coexist. What banks could do is to support omnichannel banking.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 28 August, 2012, 06:04

It’s a valid point to say that there’s enough room for all of them to co-exist. If one looks at global trend, mobile is slowly moving towards becoming bank’s primary touch point  for customer acquisition and service fulfillment. Being primary touch point doesn’t isolate it from other channels since cross-channel interaction plays an important role in bank’s strategy.

A survey report from Juniper in 2012 refers to a total mobile banking informational services users expected to reach 900 million by 2016 . Asia pacific will witness maximum growth. From a different source, mobile commerce is predicted to be reaching about USD 110 billion in 2015. It is becoming very clear that mobility based financial services is gaining the momentum as with the increase of mobile adaptation. Banks are considering mobile financial services as a means to not just retain, but to acquire and mature the customer relationship.

This trend would by no means is something to conclude that other distribution channels are going to see their last ray. It is actually a new wave of how banks are looking their distribution channels in terms of the role they play. With increase in acceptance and usage of online channels including mobile, it is becoming an imperative for the banks globally to make their branches transformed to advisory and relationship building. And this ofcourse is the right time to seriously consider multichannel banking.


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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 28 August, 2012, 09:58

Interestingly, a different picture might emerge if we hear what bankers themselves say: After leaving my earlier comment yesterday, I read a newspaper article reporting that SBI, India's largest bank, is going to keep its branches open even on Sundays. No less than the Chairman of the bank was quoted as saying that the bank is doing this to increase "banking and business". This makes a lot of sense: With increasing regulations around KYC and other areas, customer acquisition - account opening, mortgage approvals, etc. - can increasingly be completed only by visiting the branch. Maybe more people are availing themselves of banking who feel more comfortable onboarding on to a new service via branch; maybe Finextra readers - including me - aren't representative of the average bank customer; whatever. But, on the rare occasions that I've visited a branch, I've seen queues only getting longer and longer. To me, that's a truer predictor of future trends than any number of analyst reports. 

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