January 31, 2018 06:00 PM
When it comes to branch transformation, many financial institutions find themselves having to manage a fine balance between the cost and efficiency savings of self-service solutions and the more personal, friendly service that only a human teller or advisor can provide.
While many banks are keen to move transactional activities such as deposits away from the counter and onto self-service solutions, some more complex requirements will still need a human presence to walk customers through the process and explain options. And it is in such situations where video technology is proving its worth to the industry.
One country where video banking has already proven popular is China. A recent report by Retail Banking Research (RBR) noted such solutions have been in operation since 2011, when video offerings were introduced by China Guangfa Bank. The technology has since spread to more than 30 financial institutions and is in use at branches large and small.
In countries like China, which has a large rural population, the technology is particularly useful in helping boost financial inclusion and extending banking services to areas that were ill-served by traditional banking practices. With video tools, small locations in remote parts of the country are able to offer services that would otherwise only be available in urban environments where it is more cost-effective to open larger, multi-teller banks.
However, video technology has proven useful in larger branches as well. RBR highlighted, for example, China’s Bank of Communications, which has been able to migrate a large number of transactions from the teller to video-equipped self-service terminals, which reduces labor costs and boosts branch profitability.
A key benefit of video banking is allowing people access to services that would otherwise be unavailable, or difficult to arrange. And this is not limited to developing countries with a very widespread rural population. In the UK, for example, Santander has recently announced it is rolling out video technology to help consumers connect with specialist mortgage advisors.
Following a successful trial, the financial institution will be rolling out the technology to 63 branches throughout the country. In the future, the bank hopes to go further and allow consumers to connect from their homes. Santander joins the likes of Nationwide and Lloyds in offering video mortgage advice in the UK, indicating just how quickly the technology is growing.
In the coming years, we can expect many more banks to adopt video technology as recognition grows of the wide range of benefits available to both financial institutions and customers. From a bank’s perspective, video tellers and advisors allow them to reduce costs, improve profitability and extend their reach to more users. Meanwhile, for consumers, better access to a wider range of services in their local area – or even from home – is to be welcomed.
Daniel Dawson, leader of the RBR study, said: “Banks across the world are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve branch efficiency without compromising customer experience. Customers see branches as an important part of their banking relationship, and video banking helps banks offer existing, and in some cases new services, more cost-effectively.”