Branch Automation for Banks, Including Five Reasons Why You, Too, Should Bank on It

Branch Automation for Banks, Including Five Reasons Why You, Too, Should Bank on It

Digitalization – and by extension automation – is the dominant trend shaping the banking industry. It is also changing the bricks-and-mortar face of banking: bank branches. Read below what branch automation means for banks and what future developments hold in store.

The era of digital transformation has greatly increased the degree of automation in all manufacturing enterprises and the services sector as well. This trend is observable also at banks.

According to a Swiss Finance Institute (SFI) study, around 81% of the 159 European bank executives surveyed said that they are systematically concentrating on topics such as customer behavior, innovation, and new technologies. This undoubtedly also includes branch automation.

What Is Branch Automation?

Branch automation means automating processes and operations at bank branches. It involves deploying technologies and software to increase productivity and efficiency, to reduce costs, and to improve the customer experience.

One key element of branch automation is the digitalization of services. In the era of e-banking and mobile applications, customers expect high flexibility and accessibility. Digital solutions enable banks to assist their customers 24/7, to shorten wait times at branches, or even to obviate trips to a bank branch altogether.

E-Banking Terminals as a Physical Interface to Digital Channels

There are a variety of technologies and systems that banks can use to automate their branches. One example is e-banking terminals that allow customers to check their account balances, to transfer funds, and to create account statements themselves.

E-banking terminals are equipped with modern functions and can also read payment slips, for example. Customers can transact their banking business conveniently and efficiently, regardless of whether at a teller window or at an e-banking terminal. Moreover, e-banking terminals act as a physical interface to digital channels. They enable customers to transition seamlessly to using online banking services.

Automated kiosk and self-service terminals that even allow customers to open accounts and submit loan applications go even farther. They enable customers to upload documents, to enter data, and to conduct transactions without the assistance of a bank employee.

Opening a Bank Account from Home

Thanks to digital signatures and modern document management systems, customers even no longer have to visit a bank branch to sign physical documents. They can sign documents electronically and transmit them to the bank via digital platforms. This greatly accelerates account-opening, loan origination, and other transaction processes.

Additionally banks use video consultations to serve their customers outside branch premises. This allows customers to speak with bank employees and to obtain advice on products, services, and transactions from wherever they are, and it enables banks to utilize their employees’ know-how in a decentralized way. Video consultations are also possible at automated onsite videoconferencing booths at bank branches.

Physical and Digital Merge to Become Phygital

Seamless integration of digital services enables customers to toggle their banking activities between different channels easily and conveniently, for example when initiating a cash outpayment via an e-banking portal: a customer generates a QR code at home or at an e-banking terminal and can then redeem the QR code at an automated teller machine using his or her smartphone.

This “phygital” application (combining “physical” and “digital”) enables banks to customize customer service and strengthens customer retention.

Artificial Intelligence and Biometrics: the Future of Bank Branches

Branch automation will present banks with even more possibilities in the future, always impelled by general technological advancements such as artificial intelligence and biometrics.

Artificial intelligence in the form of voicebots and chatbots will increasingly be deployed in customer support. Customers will be able to ask questions and obtain information and assistance without speaking with a human employee, enabling efficient, customized customer service. If artificial intelligence is loaded into an automated teller machine or kiosk, this solution can be used also at bank branches to handle standard queries.

Biometric technologies like facial recognition and fingerprint scanning will play a vital role in identity verification in the future, improving user-friendliness and increasing the security of bank transactions.

Banks will continue to invest in branch automation in order to improve their services, to lower costs, and to give customers an innovative and effective banking experience. The increasing integration of artificial intelligence and other modern technologies will further transform the banking industry, opening up new possibilities and opportunities. All in all, the seamless conjunction of humans and technology will formatively shape the bank branches of tomorrow.