Some banks are growing their branch footprint. Other banks are reigning it in. And while some banks are trying to redefine what role a branch plays in a retail banking industry that increasingly focuses on self-service, others are spinning their wheels.
"The bulk of investment has been limited to check imaging," explains Celent senior analyst Bob Meara during a Celent Banking Innovation and Insight Day presentation on the future of branch banking. "If you take out check imaging and look at the remainder of branch technology investment, it isn’t much."
If imaging is what banks consider innovation in the branch channel, they might be missing the point. Innovation at the branch level isn't simply about adding a new piece of technology to the mix. There's more to it.
Among the non-technology traits Meara identifies as common among highly evolved banks and credit unions are:
On the tech side, the highly evolved bank branch does more than check imaging as well:
The bank branch is changing. A highly evolved bank with some of the traits Meara discusses would look more like a modern retail store and less like a stuffy bank.
Where would customers rather be: a traditional bank branch (think long lines waiting for tellers who do everything behind a counter, and bankers sitting at desks whose exact roles are not easy for a customer to identify) or the Apple Store?