business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

We've reported here numerous times on MNB over the years about the changes taking place in the banking business as that industry responds to shifting consumer trends.

Now, the Financial Times has a story about how Bank of America is expanding its experiment with unmanned branches that the company feels can better serve its customers, while simultaneously cutting costs. These branches offer "enough technology" so that consumers can "do a lot of simple tasks themselves," and then, "if they want something more complex - plan for retirement, start a small business - they are steered into a side room, where they can videoconference with specialists sitting in call centres."

Bank of America opened three of these branches in the US last year, and reportedly plans to open another 25 around the country.

"I don't believe analysts who say the branch is dead; that's just lame, " says Charles Liu, head of branch transformation at Bank of America. "But, we're at the forefront of trying to change the model. We have to evolve."

There was a time when it made sense for banks to have branches on virtually every corner, but the growth of mobile-enabled banking has made that kind of physical footprint redundant. Now, banks are having to retrench and figure out what the new balance should be ... not to mention what it should be next year and the year after that.

It is a good lesson for every retailer to consider, especially because we live in a world that may be as over-stored as it is over-banked.

It is a lesson that should be an Eye-Opener.
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