A Look at the Bank of the Future

By Mel Duvall  |  Posted 11-20-2006
The bank of the future may very well feature biometric "welcome stations" where customers are identified when they walk in the door by a fingerprint or other means of individual identification, and serviced according to their needs and banking profiles.

Diebold, one of the world's largest manufacturers of automated teller machines (ATMs), unveiled its Branch of the Future concept last week at the BAI Retail Delivery banking conference in Las Vegas. The concept is centered on using technology to more effectively determine which customers are in the branch at any one time, and reorganizing bank resources and staff to meet those needs.

"It's set just a few years into the future, and we're taking the best of what we know and adapting it into the most realistic, cost-effective and efficient solutions technology can provide," said Chuck Ducey, Diebold's senior vice president of global development and services.

After customers are identified at a welcome station, they indicate the types of transactions or activities they intend to undertake. Depending on their input, the system will analyze their needs and profile against the current branch activity and workloads. Customers will then be instructed to proceed to a "fulfillment station" to complete their activities in the most efficient manner. The fulfillment stations may be automated or human-assisted.

Using a biometric method or similar method of individually identifying customers as they walk into a branch will allow banks to become more effective in promoting new products and services. A customer entering a bank to cash a check, for example, might be notified that he qualifies for a home equity loan and can finalize the loan that day while at the branch. In another scenario, a high-value customer might be ushered into a private area to discuss his investment needs or be provided with expedited service.

Ducey notes that contrary to the common belief of a few years ago, when most industry analysts thought the bank branch was dying, branches remain the most important battleground for winning and keeping customers. Big banks are, in fact, in the midst of a branch building spree, but those new branches bear little resemblance to traditional outlets.