I first heard the term “branch transformation” several years ago. Not being familiar with the phrase, I spoke with a number of senior bank officials and security system integrators that we partner with in the financial industry, to hear their opinions and learn more. No one I spoke with had the exact same answer, but I did uncover some common themes:
- Banks, like other industries, are working to grow their business. They want to attract and retain customers, and they are well aware that millennials are now their target demographic. Unlike baby boomers, who grew up with traditional in-branch banking, many millennials would rather use a mobile app than visit a branch. Because of this, banks are investing in new ways to engage customers with better in-branch experiences.
- Physical bank branches are changing as a result of this. Some banking organizations are closing branches, but others are investing heavily in new and better branch layouts. Some branches are transforming into lounge areas, complete with comfortable couches and stylish décor. In other banks, you might even find a play area for toddlers. Other designs include café settings or even office space for customers, complete with boardroom tables and whiteboards for team meetings. The aim is to make the physical branch setting more attractive to customers so they want to spend time there, to engage in discussions about their financial needs or even just relax with a latte.
- Banks are leveraging technology to improve compliance and increase operational efficiency. For example, they are replacing cash drawers with money recyclers, which minimize issues with cash handling and can restrict the amount of money that a potential bank robber could obtain. Technology is also helping banks offer more self-serve capabilities. Many banks are deploying Intelligent/Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs), which offer many of the same services as ATMs, but also include video conferencing with a remote teller. Opinion, however, seems split on whether ITMs can effectively replace live tellers. Many customers who take the time to travel to a branch actually want to speak to a financial expert in person, especially for high-value transactions like mortgages.
So in this new world of bank branches that look like cafés and video conferencing with tellers, where does video surveillance fit? It’s a great question. The branch transformation changes we’re seeing today are really driving what the bank of the future will look like. Those of us in the security industry have to think beyond today’s security needs to include what banks require for every aspect of their business.
From a technology perspective, I believe the bank of the future will want the following:
- A friendly, secure environment where customers have self-serve options for basic transactions and a sense of security for financial consulting. From a design standpoint, the higher the value of the transaction, the more secure the environment needs to be. This could mean more IP video surveillance in meeting rooms, along with stronger access controls and even biometrics.
- More IP cameras and IoT devices. IP cameras offer not just better image quality, but also functionality that enables future technologies like AI-based analytics, analysis and other applications in the cloud. Security integrators will need to be much more strategic in the placement of IP cameras, because banks are demanding a lot from these devices. Financial institutions are using IP cameras for remote auditing purposes, as well as for gathering data on queue lengths, dwell times and customer traffic patterns and interests. Proper camera placement and configuration is key to the success of these applications. Many banks are also very interested in the future possibilities of face recognition, so I expect that face-level cameras will also become more popular, especially as AI technology evolves and accuracy improves.
- Truly integrated technology solutions that deliver business intelligence. Bank branch technology needs to be connected in such a way that meaningful data can be extracted. Right now, many banks integrate surveillance video with teller and ATM transaction data, but integrating other technologies opens the door to new applications. Just think about a day when banks use video not only to measure queue lengths, but to provide live data to an app so customers can see how long the lineup is for the teller before driving to their branch.
The possibilities of video and data integrations are almost endless, and can help banks better understand and grow their business.
Today, many different departments within a bank can use video-enabled, data-driven insights to solve problems related to security and fraud, but also compliance, operational efficiency and even marketing. This is already happening with some March Networks banking customers and I expect we’ll see even more financial institutions taking advantage of these solutions.
To learn more, ask a question, or share your take on retail bank branch transformations, post your comment below: