If you Google ‘the future of UK banking’ or similar and assuming you are concerned, you’ll end up with worthy government conferences and plans, such as at Future of Banking.
It’s got gems like, ‘With moves to establish a European banking union, implement a new regulatory regime and pass a Banking Reform Bill all underway, financial institutions are awaiting a period of significant change. How can firms work with the Government to ensure reform supports a competitive, innovative banking and financial services sector?’
All very worthy, but yawn-worthy for most people. What they want to know what is to happen to their local banking and their salaries and expenses.
However, there is a different and more hyper idea now doing the rounds.
The Bank Teller Counted Out
You must have seen some of the excitement in the media about what our banks will look like in just five years’ time. The Daily Telegraph was among them, and Jessica Winch waxed fulsome about it.
She posed the view that intelligent machines could replace staff in branches within five years. ‘Express branches’ will be similar to supermarket self-service checkouts. ‘They would be almost completely devoid of human interaction.’
If it works in trials, it will be then shape all future branches, with ATMs capable of doing 95% of transactions. It is thought a high street bank will open a convenience store type express outlook. There will be just supervisors on hand in branches.
Winch said, ‘The new branches would be smaller and fitted with screens and telephones so that customers could call a specialist department for assistance. This might include a video link similar to the Skype internet telephone service.’
Some of these branches would have a drive-through like a fast food chain, where customers could pre-order cash.
Why? Well it will cut their costs dramatically. Pilot schemes in the USA reduced banks’ expenses by around 50%. Some staff are redeployed to new call centres.
Banks had hoped that online and mobile banking would make real branch closures acceptable, but they have been unpopular. The express banks would keep a notional high street presence and help their PR and could open for longer.
The point is that face-to-face communication will become a rarity, although Barclays is linking with Asda for 7-day branches instore. Better parking, of course. But they are also simultaneously working on technology to replace people.
They burble about the importance of personal relationships with such things as mortgage applications. But they could be done on screens, presumably.
So What’s Wrong With All That?
On the face of it, nothing is wrong. A room of ATMs and screens … mmm.
They seem to be forgetting that they are anxious that we phase out actual cash and move to cashless transactions, so we won’t need the cash facility.
Makes their plans even more coldly logical and inevitable.
But hang on, haven’t they thought this through? Surely if all we need is screen access to advisers, keyboard transactions…. haven’t we got that already? Aren’t our front rooms bank branches now and already????
Other related data for you to access:
The future of banking? The credit card that will spell out your balance.
The future of online banking: it’s all around us, as more than 62% in all age groups say they prefer online banking.
Marketforce: The Future of Retail Banking
Essential Updates on Two Earlier MBF Blogs, 5 November 2013
The Digital Economy Is No Longer an Add-On, It IS The Economy, 27 August 2013
Technology Simplifies Money Exchange, 15 November 2011