Market Watch Personal Finance

Reviewing Citi’s bank of the future: a mixed bag of ideas

Fastcompany has published last week a review of Citi’s future concept for its banks’ branch:

Image source: FastCompany

While providing the necessary eye candy ( 2 ways interactive wall, screens everywhere!) I have mixed feelings on the solution proposed:

+ Intelligent ATMS: this is definitely the way forward, as banks are pushing more and more their customers toward self service and/or they are moving themselves in this direction. Banks now include most of generic actions for cash withdrawal, cash deposit, check deposit (Bank of America or Chase were leading the pack on instant scan), further teller activities (certified check, etc.) can be moved to the ATM. Citi proposes an ATM that will propose you your most requested amount and other services. Additionally, I think further integration with web banking and personal finance management would provide value such as reminder for bills to pay or credit cards.

+ Media wall: while as such, this is a futuristic implementation, the diagnostic that retail branches of bank have limited attractiveness is real. Localized information for clients and potential customers can enhance the visibility of a branch. However, selecting relevant content will transform the media wall from a nice looking device to a real advantage. Data mining financial information, if done properly while respecting privacy, and crossing it with publicly available information, can help provide valuable information to potential clients, from real estate market situation, average savings to the preferred restaurants of the neighborhood.

Tabletop kiosk: envisioned as a way for people (clients and non clients) to be informed on real estate trends of neighborhood or travel deals. I am dubious on this implementation as it would be frustrating to access to information with limited possible actions. It looks too much for me like a dumbed down internet kiosk.

Sales Wall: this is where I am confused. Privacy on account information and wealth is key for clients and exposing your future real estate credit on a sales wall seems dubious. The transition for self service to assistance will also be challenging as ensuring that a customer representative is available at the key time could be difficult. I think it would be probably be more realisticl to equip branch personnel with two-way screens and a developed “portfolio” management software that could help personnel service their clients.

Also “absent” from this future concept is the personnel branch.¬†Dehumanizing¬†branches is an “easy” but potentially unsuccessful way as most solutions provided automatically can be performed by customer in front of their PC at home. With the rise of web banking, branches personnel have to become expert in the most complex products for the bank and serve as key intermediaries to facilitate client’s life in the bank when problems arise. An interesting review of the role of branches in the future of banking can be found here.

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