June 2, 2015
In the last couple of years, new FinTech startups (new-age banks) have flourished by primarily targeting tech-savvy, young mobile users for banking and financial products. These virtual and mobile banks have made a lot of buzz in the industry; however, the impact of such initiatives is yet to reach full potential, but their impact is loud enough to make banks think.
Globally, banks are undergoing a transformation and are increasingly looking to provide banking services through mobile, tablet and other Internet-enabled devices. Still, there is a common debate about the future of the bank branches: should a bank close down all the physical branches, reduce the number of branches, or change them (form, format) for good? While branches are still a great way to provide a complete experience, we are witnessing that mobile and Internet devices are helping a lot in the origination of banking products. Similarly, there are several other factors, such as customer segments. We have tried to look at what the right mix for a bank could be.
According to a study conducted by Millward Brown across 1,018 adults who had access to smartphones or tablets, the following things were observed:
Credit card applications originated from mobile phones contributed to 17% while those from laptop/PCs stood at 57%. Similarly, checking and savings account applications originated from mobiles contributed to 8% while those from PCs were 46%.
The study also shows that across generations, with an increase in the time taken to complete a transaction, people are more likely to use laptops than their smartphones.
A study by Capgemini shows that customers still like to use bank branches. So it seems that all is not lost for branches. The study also reveals that more than half the customers prefer visiting bank branches even for a simple transaction. According to GrowthPraxis (payments and banking-focused research firm), bank branches have to undergo transformation by taking a new shape and adopting a new format, and co-exist with the digital channels. Banks will have to keep in mind the needs of each customer segment. The tech-savvy millennials (people less than 25 years of age), would never visit a bank and would like all transactions to be completed with the click of a button. People in the middle ages (25 to 45) would use a mixture of both channels but would move to digital banking over years. However, people who are older (45+ years) would continue visiting branches as it has become a habit for people in this age demographic.
The Success of mBank’s Light Branches: A Useful Case Study in Context
Poland’s mBank has committed to invest in the reorganization of their branch delivery network. mBank’s physical delivery network will include both Light Branches as well as integrated Advisory Centres.
mBank—rather than trying to reconfigure current branches—is opening up smaller Light Branches at higher consumer traffic hubs, such as shopping malls. The focus of these Light Branches will be on customer acquisition, communication, user experience and providing simple services. According to mBank, over 40 light branches will be operating throughout Poland by 2018, supporting new account opening, on-the-spot issuance of payment cards, quick cash loans as well as cash handling. Reinforcing them would be 60 mKiosks located in malls. Private and corporate customers will be able to use these manned kiosks to open an account, get a loan, get a credit/debit card or open a savings, investment or insurance product.
Within six months of opening up Light Branches, the firm has reported that basic banking product sales have tripled in these Light Branches compared to the traditional high-street branches. In addition, more than 90% of customers who have visited Light Branches have felt very positive about the new approach to banking. The first Light Branch took around 60% of all orders performed by mBank customers in the region.