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Convenience banking

A wide range of market forces and new technologies are drastically changing the Retail Banking industry


Whilst most people are talking about the impact the Internet will have on the banking industry there are a host of other new technologies that are also effecting the industry in a significant way. Most banks today have some form of Internet strategy for their existing clients, promoting their products and services and as a means of attracting new clients. Under current conditions this delivery channel is attractive to only a small percentage of the potential client base. 75% of the world-wide population does not have access to a telephone let alone a computer, a trend that will soon change as improvements in satellite communications are realised and computers become regarded as regular household appliances.

The Internet alone may not transform the banking industry but when combined with other technologies such as Interactive Voice Response systems, Call Centre technologies, new ATM devices, set mounted devices, and mobile communications customers will be provided with a radically different way to communicate and transact with their bank. The Internet currently provides the least cost per transaction at an estimated 10c per transaction compared to Call Centres at $15.00 per transaction and branch transactions being even higher.

In the next twelve months we will see the delivery of another important component that banks will provide to their clients to allow them to integrate and control the security access to their accounts. Smart Cards will provide individuals with an “electronic purse” that will collate and store a variety of information from driving licence information, club memberships, frequent flyer numbers, as well as the important banking related information such as account numbers and pin numbers for accessing those accounts. As from this year all personal computers will be delivered with a Smart Card reader and most mobile phones will have two cards slots one for the telecom SIM card and one to hold the smart card. It is estimated that some 3 billion Smart Cards will be in use within three years. These cards will enable the holder to transact with the bank via mobile phone, computer, ATM and at the branch with an increased level of security as the Smart Card stores the access numbers without the need to load them to the device thus preventing unauthorised storage and access.

These new technologies are delivering more control and access to financial information for the bank's customers to perform transactions 24 hours per day. The successful bank of the future will be the bank who can combine the best technologies with a revised 'new-look' branch strategy. Many banks have announced that they are changing the style of their branches to include kiosks where their clients can use self-service devices to enter transactions with a particular focus on the basic deposit, withdrawal and bill payment transactions. In the new style branches, there is a need to retrain staff to become branch 'hosts' rather than traditional tellers. The branch hosts will meet customers as they enter the branch and direct them to the most appropriate kiosk to conduct their transaction. The branch hosts will also highlight other products and services that maybe of interest to the client. Many banks today, as a first step in such a strategy, have installed touch screen computers to advertise products to clients, installed statement printers and have direct link telephones in the branch so that clients can make free calls to operators that maybe able to assist them without the need to queue at the branch counter.

In addition to changes in branch style there is a change in the location of many branches as the move from the main street of the small village to the larger cities and shopping malls begins. Defining the optimum locations and style of the future branches is the challenge many organisations are facing today.

The final piece in the new convenience bank of the future, will be the underlying transaction systems that process the increasing number of transactions from the variety of new sources. The back office processing systems need to provide real-time update of transactions and must be integrated with other systems in the bank. Customers are demanding 24 hour 7 days per week access to all their financial information and will no longer accept delays in processing or updates that were experienced with systems that relied on the traditional end-of-day processing.

To achieve this level of attainment the new convenience bank needs to have a sophisticated solution in place, that delivers exceptional performance while integrating with existing environments. A robust, proven and fully integrated system which provides accurate banking information, enhanced services and an effective management of any underlying risk is more than ever, the key to success.




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