Despite the proliferation of digital tools and new concepts like AI, branches are not going to disappear anytime soon

A recent UBS research showed that online banking has overtaken in-branch transactions for the first time, with 52% of consumer transactions now being done online. However, despite the proliferation of digital tools and new concepts like AI, branches are not going to disappear anytime soon.

According to PwC’s “2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey: Mobile users set the agenda”, traditional banking still has plenty of fans for specific types of transactions.

  • 65% of the respondents believe that it’s significant for them to have a branch in their area.
  • 25% are not being willing to open a bank account if that specific bank does not have at least one local branch.
  • 50% prefer to apply for a loan in a physical branch rather than over the phone or online.

The findings also reveal that mobile banking has increased by 5% compared to 2017, whereas the use of PC has decreased by 5%. These statistics mean that banks wishing to thrive in the digital-first era, shall embrace a rather hybrid approach when it comes to their branch network; phygital is the term often used by marketers to describe the blend of physical and digital experiences.

Such solutions could be personal financial management, where the smartphone turns into a personal financial consultant and consumers can understand their financial situation and make financial decision-making simpler, faster and more intuitive.

Additionally, web conferencing, liveview and co-browsing enable banks to deliver the in-person experience online. The bank’s staff can consult, interact and collaborate with the customers wherever they are; either in branch, online or over the phone.

A study from McKinsey comes to confirm all of the above; 56% of consumers would be willing to purchase banking products digitally, only 13% has done so. Reducing complexity and offering the same level of experience, convenience and security across all channels is the key to success.

Transforming the branches with new digital capabilities and educating the consumers on how to take advantage of them shall be a strategic priority for all banks.