Greater use of digital banking means that when our clients come to branches, we have more time and capacity to help them with more complex needs – like home loans – where a relationship and coaching are essential.
From what we’ve seen over the past 12 months, only 8 percent of our customers now rely solely on branches. This means that over 90% are already using at least one self-service channel.
Meanwhile, there is no doubt that self-service banking is part of a larger societal shift – in the way we shop, interact with government, interact with services – even interact with each other. This is positive – in the sense that helping our clients not only will enable them to bank digitally, but will also help them embrace a larger digital future that will be the key to access and continuous inclusion.
However, we are keenly aware that when we close branches or remove parts of the assisted service offering, there is heightened concern due to this underlying anxiety about certain parts of the community being “Left behind”.
We often talk about the need for “education” – not only in banking, but in various aspects of our life, including privacy, health, relationships – but in our case, we accept that we shouldn’t ” teach ”to our customers.
We need to focus on their preferences – balance lies in understanding the difference between a familiar habit and what is actually desired. Our customers want help with more complex needs, they don’t necessarily want to come to a branch for help with the “little stuff”.
This much deeper educational process requires a much broader mobilization. There are many examples – for example in Northern Europe – where this is easily adopted by government, the private sector and the community.
We have to be realistic about the evolution of the bank and accept that the evolution is not driven primarily by the banks but rather by the preferences of the customers. If banks don’t satisfy a preference for financial services, our increasingly digital world means another institution will – whether it’s Amazon, a supermarket, a “neobank»Or an airline offering credit cards and health insurance in partnership with other institutions.
These competitive offers are exclusively digital. Moreover, in the interest of a more efficient and lower risk economy, governments and regulators are also fueling the push towards digital and self-service banking and other services.
In Australia, for example, where the use of cash and checks remains a key factor in assisted banking services, the use of checks is likely to be more actively discouraged.
As this evolution accelerates, we have an obligation – and a personal interest – to ensure that our customers are not left behind. This is why we have several programs to help clients and support them in their transition to digital banking. But we’re comforted by the data showing that those who we think could be most affected are much further ahead than we realize.