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Banking Kiosk

Banking Kiosks

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Bridge the Gap Between Digital Convenience & In-Branch Interactions.

Banks are closing physical branches in spades – despite a growing economy – as customers move to online banking. And this isn’t an accident. Banks are actively creating tools that push control into the hands of their users. Despite this, those tools are designed to cover 80% of financial use cases – which means that people still need help from humans from time to time. And when they do interact with bank employees, they’ve been trained by super-simple and easy digital tools, so they expect human interactions to be similarly fast, convenient, and on their schedule. As a result, banks have been working creatively on integrating new technologies that govern how, where, and when they operate to serve their customers without completely foregoing that in-person expertise and service. The solution? Keep reading to find out.

For decades, banks needed to add new locations to grow, pushing the number of U.S. branches to a peak in 2009. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, some started closing branches realizing they could save money to contend with low-interest rates and increasing regulatory costs. Along the way, lenders realized they could maintain their deposit levels with fewer locations in a digital world where customers often prefer banks’ mobile apps and ATMs. To be clear, banks are still opening branch locations, just not fast enough to net out to an increase and make up for the ones they are closing.

In fact, over the past two decades, banks have even started purposefully discouraging customers from visiting their lobbies. Beyond simply driving customers to automated channels: online banking, mobile apps, and chatbots – banks have even gone as far as charging their customers fees whenever they use tellers or lobby-related activities. The cycle becomes self-fulfilling at that point, which explains why over 1,700 banks have closed from June 2016-June 2017 and why we’re in the longest stretch of bank closures since the Great Depression (source: Wall Street Journal).

Because consumer banking is relatively basic and online banking is pretty easy, digital tools are used by almost all banking consumers whether they value in-person interactions or not. But with that said, great banking needs great relationships, especially for complicated transactions. Try completing a loan application online or over the phone: uh, no thanks. Long waits on hold, going down endless phone trees, or being passed between agents seem a lot less straight-forward than working with a banking expert in-person in half the time (even if it means driving 30 minutes because of all the bank closures).

Today there are nearly 90,000 bank branches in the United States. Last year, 46% of banking customers said the only way the interacted with their bank was exclusively through digital channels, up from 27% in 2012 (according to a survey by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers). So, how do we balance the demand for self-service banking via digital tools with the need to include humans for the higher level financial and transactional functions? How do we justify keeping 90,000 bank branches open to support the ~50% of clients (and declining) who still need to visit a branch for those complicated transactions?

The answer: technology! Banking customers need to work with someone in-person, but it’s expensive staffing branches with specific experts (vs. generalists) who are often underutilized. Not to mention another problem, particularly complicated transactions also require a huge amount of personal information – which means customers are sometimes hesitant to share their, for example, salary information, with a loan officer who also happens to be their neighbor, Jim. On top of that, branches are often only open during business hours, a particularly inconvenient time for those of us who are working their day job from those exact same hours and find it difficult to “sneak off to the bank.”

The solution is something pretty surprising:  a “Virtual Banking Expert©” literally a physical self-service kiosk system with a video feed and specialized work-station touchscreen which allows anyone to privately interact with an expert at almost any time. This allows customers to work with specialized tools on highly secure channels in their local branches without compromising their personal information or requiring that they miss valuable work hours. Interestingly, this also means banks can now bring “branches” to customers as long as there is a secured room accessible via account-holder cards, biometric security measures, and proper safety.

Question: is it affordable to keep banking experts on staff in physical branches to accommodate for the occasions when customers need to leverage their specialized skills? That’s a tough equation – especially since according to research from CACI, the typical consumer will visit a bank branch just 4 times a year by 2022 (currently consumers are averaging around 7 visits to a branch per year). But can that highly valuable and skilled banker service multiple locations by remotely, privately, and securely remoting in with people virtually anywhere using a Virtual Banking Expert© kiosk solution when they aren’t interacting with customers in the physical branch? And can the convenient Virtual Banking Expert be placed in a secured room at the branch accessible during flexible hours? Absolutely. You could even have the most populated branches with experts on staff who are also able to remote-in to other branches.

The consumer financial industry is changing – and a digitally evolving customer base continues to push the limits of what banks can do with increasing demands for convenience and ease. But we don’t think we’re anywhere close to cutting humans out of banking transactions, and that is never our goal. We just think the role of humans is going to get a little more personal and less simply transactional. It’s simple to make those interactions more convenient and affordable for all parties involved. And as more and more customers demand flexibility and options when it comes to how they do business (in-person, online, over the phone, live chat, etc…) it’s more important than ever to get ahead of this growing trend. Want to learn more? Visit https://www.verifone.com/en/us/kiosks-unattended-0 or contact us today about custom solutions like the Virtual Banking Expert.

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