Banks plan to invest 16bn in digital services for branches

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Banks all over the world are planning to invest around 16 billion dollars in branch transformation and the new technologies this requires in 2017.

A study carried out on behalf of Wincor Nixdorf by the American IT market research company International Data Corporation (IDC) maintains that the success or failure of a branch network is dependent on its acceptance by the customer. Now, to ensure its success, not only do the branch, online and mobile channels need to offer perfect service individually, they must also be completely integrated into the digital world, which is where more and more customers spend their time and manage their banking business.

Jens Bohlen, member of the Board of Directors of Wincor Nixdorf AG with responsibility for the company’s global banking business, presented the study’s results at the company’s International Management Seminar, held from October 22 – 24 in Istanbul. He noted that the bank branch continues to be very valuable as a delivery channel, but it must transform itself. Key factors in the success of branch transformation projects, according to the study, are differentiation in branch type within the branch network, an improved customer experience, and the option of carrying out cash and other standard transactions quickly and easily.

“The results of the IDC study suggest that an optimally positioned branch network and the use of the latest technology can bring a 25 per cent increase in customer contacts with a simultaneous gain in efficiency of around 30 per cent,” Bohlen said. According to the study, consumers benefit from 24/7 service and banks profit from extensive process automation and thus lower costs.

“Worldwide demand for automation technology is rising. We want to support banks around the world through software in particular in implementing branch transformation projects, optimizing omnichannel sales and improving the customer experience,” added Wincor Nixdorf’s CEO Eckard Heidloff. It is Wincor Nixdorf’s goal to double its software sales over the medium term to some 600 million euros.

Innovative self-service technology serves as a bridge to other channels. Customizable screens and intuitive touch interfaces at self-service terminals, for example, ensure fast transactions. Another example is ATMs that can be operated via smart phone: the customer authorizes a withdrawal using a mobile app and receives cash at the ATM without the need for a credit card.

The provision of a wide array of services and consulting even in mini branches or unstaffed self-service points is enabled through modern technologies such as video conference systems integrated in self-service terminals: at the touch of a button, the customer can communicate directly with a bank consultant who specializes in the topic of interest. This technology also enables extended self-service options such as opening an account. Video technology helps bridge distances, making it possible to offer consulting services in rural areas and ensure an extensive presence across all branch types.

While automation is a key process that banks will have to integrate over the next few years, customers still want to feel a human touch. Together with a British bank, Wincor Nixdorf has developed a concept for assisted self-service. The “assisted teller counter” automates a variety of standard transactions such as withdrawals and deposits of banknotes and coins, document printing, and check deposits. A barcode reader and a NFC reader are integrated to simplify the handling of transactions such as bill payment.

If necessary, customers can request assistance simply by pressing a button on the device. Branch staff receive these requests via an iPad and can provide help immediately.

“We are the first provider in the world to complete a large-scale installation of a solution like this one, which allows the bank to offer all its standard transactions on self-service systems with a high degree of customer orientation and efficiency,” says Bohlen.

As more and more customers expect fast, simple banking processes, banks must invest in the necessary technology while still maintaining the human interaction allowing customers to trust in their services.

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