Bank Branches Dead in < 10 Years

October 25, 2013 2 Comments »
Bank Branches Dead in < 10 Years

Remember Blockbuster Video? I know it was ages ago, but this was a company that essentially rented commercial space to put DVD’s on shelves for consumers to physically browse through. Kind of seems like a waste of space when looking back on it no?

Well get ready for that trend to consume banking as well.

Your neighbor bank or credit union branch is doing the exact same thing in that they are renting commercial space to conduct business when something the size of a Redbox kiosk could handle it with ease!

Banking executives have known this little secret for a while now, however, and are just beginning implementing the strategies that may wipe out the majority of physical branches forever.

In several states in the east and southeast both KeyBank and Citizens Bank are testing video conferencing as a means of reaching your neighborhood teller. Imagine driving up to a kiosk in a parking lot where your bank branch used to exist but has since been converted to, let’s say, a Chipotle. You need to deposit 2 checks and speak to your branch manager about a mortgage application. No problem. Your checks probably could have been deposited on your way to the kiosk with a mobile deposit app on your phone, but you can show them to your virtual teller once you arrive if you haven’t already deposited them.

As you roll up to the kiosk a screen prompts you asking what’d you like to do. After touching the “speak with a teller” option the screen immediately opens to a professional looking individual on a head set. Here’s your neighborhood teller! And he/she is an expert on your needed area of expertise on this particular visit.

No longer will banks need to hire in geo-specific areas as customer service will almost completely be switched to the virtual world. This means banks can hire for specific areas of expertise (mortgage, credit card, etc) and allow these employees to work virtually so long as they have their laptop and a sturdy internet connection.

Something similar to this scenario is inevitably the future of banking. In a recent interview with Ryan McInerney, Chase CEO of consumer banking, he told investors that bank customers can perform 90 percent of traditional banking transactions at self-service kiosks. And according to Bankrate’s “5 tech trends driving the future of banking” study Chase plans to test this technology at up to 1,000 bank branches.

This trajectory of consumer banking is a win-win for both the banks and their customers. Study’s long before this Bankrate one have indicated that do-it-yourself banking is not only catching on but thriving amongst consumers. From mobile check deposit to text alerts/notifications and the vast array of online tools, physical branches are slowly becoming obsolete. Heck you can even get a new debit or credit card printed for you on the spot with many banks and credit unions these days – a task a smartly programmed kiosk could undertake no doubt. And for the banks it’s even a larger win. They get to slash costs at an unprecedented rate and they’ll soon be able to hire in all regions of the world – even for a local “branch” position.

For those of you that still love going into your local branch and having someone hold your hand while your needs are carried out – don’t fret. Many banks and credit unions will likely leave a few branches speckled throughout their territories for the late adopters but they just may end up being as illusive as your neighborhood video rental store (they’re not entirely extinct either!).

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