Australia's Westpac is preparing to pump $40 million over the next two years into a tech-heavy refresh of its rural branches.
Part of Westpac's 'Bank Now' branch project, the overhaul will see regional and rural outposts stripped of the traditional screens and counters that separated customers from staff. In their place will be an open plan lay-out which combines a mix of self-service banking options and tailored advice and support from specialist staff.
By the end of 2016, all Westpac regional and rural branches will have the bank's Connect Now video conferencing technology, giving customers real-time access to offsite experts. Meanwhile, smart ATMs that accept deposits through cash, coins and cheques will be available 24/7, while a lounge-style area lets customers check their account balances, transfer money and pay bills on dedicated tablets.
The $40 million investment comes on top of $23 million already pumped into the rural branch upgrade and the bank says it expects to continue investing beyond 2017 to ensure that more than half of its regional network is overhauled by 2020.
Gai McGrath, GM, retail banking, Westpac, says: "We want to give regional customers even more reasons to choose Westpac as their bank and this is a clear way we can demonstrate our commitment to regional and rural Australia."