There is a future for bank branches, but it needs to be secure

Image credit: Kirk Rogers |

Many of us will have seen a “This branch is permanently closing” sign in the window of a local bank. The ongoing bank branch closure programme in the UK has been driven by the desire of many customers to engage with their bank digitally, plus the need for banks to reduce operating costs.

Whilst many customers do indeed prefer digital engagement, there are others who feel uncomfortable without face-to-face contact, especially when managing more complicated activities. The UK Finance Report ‘The Way We Bank Now 2018’ highlighted that three in five customers would prefer to speak with an adviser about mortgages and other complex products. 

So whilst bank branches are no longer the medium of choice for transactional banking, they do have a future for customer engagement around more complex products. But banks must deliver the same great experience and security in branch that consumers expect and receive from their banking apps.

However the in-branch experience varies from bank to bank and also from branch to branch. My recent experience of opening an account online which required a follow up visit to a branch left me somewhat bemused at the amateur nature of how the branch handled my documents. No attempt was made to ascertain the authenticity of the documents before running them through a regular scanner. Identity document scanners that check the authenticity and integrity of the customer‘s identity documents give customers confidence that their personal documents are being treated securely, especially when the scanning is carried out in front of the customer. 

There have been numerous news stories about bank accounts being opened with fraudulent identity documents. Raising the level of assurance that the customer is who they say they are, by taking additional steps to ensure that documents are genuine and have not been tampered with, is an essential part of a great in-branch customer experience.

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