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The Future of Bank Branches and How They Can Compete With Digital Banks

Banking as we know it today is almost unrecognizable. Thanks to technological advancements, almost anyone can open an account and do complex transactions simply with a few taps on their phone. Digital banking also made banking possible when the COVID-19 pandemic hit — and in a post-COVID-19 normal, customers have adjusted and adapted to this way of banking.

However, some customers still prefer going to a bank. But this has not stopped the decline of branches in the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic simply did not help. According to Forbes, branch transactions fell 30-40%, and even cash usage declined when the pandemic hit. And amidst a post-COVID-19 recovery, a 2021 study by fintech Self Financial confirmed that the death of bank branches could be possible, saying that it could be extinct come 2034.

While digital banks have proved to be useful and convenient, their success shouldn’t be at the expense of bank branches. Physical branches are still crucial to the customer experience, but they would need to change and adapt to compete with digital banks.

Bank branches would need to integrate some features of digital banking:

Automate Staff Workflow

● Automating staff workflow can result in improved customer and staff experience.

● Enabling digital appointment bookings can save both the customer’s and the staff’s time.

Integrate Queue Management

● Banks can eliminate the nuisance of long lines and waiting times with the help of queue management.

● In a COVID-19 ‘new normal’, prevention and management are key to stifle the surge of the virus. Queue management avoids overcrowding by ensuring foot traffic within a branch is controlled.

Offer Unique and Irreplaceable Service

● Outside of simple transactions, bank branches can offer services that digital banking cannot replicate.

● Emphasize services like advisement on big financial decisions. Use bank branches to conduct in-person consultations concerning mortgages and other types of loans.

Now is the time to transform bank branches. Each year, more and more physical branches are closing down. However, despite the prediction of its extinction, the brick-and-mortar model still offers many benefits for different kinds of customers. Banks just need to rethink how they should operate by way of Financial Technology (FinTech) integration.

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