Banks moving from the queues
As technology improves and customers demand more efficient services from commercial banks, they can expect to have less interaction inside a branch, and commercial banks will continue to undergo restructuring.
This is the view of president of the Barbados Bankers’ Association, Glyne Harrison, who said that one of the main focuses of commercial banks was to get customers to start using more alternative channels. Harrison was speaking to reporters on the sideline of a launch of an SMS text messaging service by First Citizens Bank (Barbados) Limited on Tuesday.
“All banks try to be efficient as possible,” said Harrison.
“So we try to offer different channels, whether it is electronic, through ATM, whether it is online banking, or whether it is using just telephone banking. So there are alternatives that can be used. I think as a society we are not yet caught on to using channels besides branches, and there is very little that can be done in the physical branch that cannot be done through alternative channels,” he added.
“I think as an industry we certainly do have to try to do a better job of converting persons who are stuck on going into the branch to using these alternative channels, which means that we have to let them know that they are safe, secure, and that once they use it there will not be anything that happens that they need to fear.
“I think it is a matter of getting [rid of] those fears and concerns as we try to migrate persons from the physical branch to the more soft services offered by online banking, ATM [and] Point Of Sales,” explained Harrison.
He dismissed the notion that older people would not want to use the alternative channels and would prefer to go into a physical branch as nothing but “a myth”, adding that “the average person” who is retiring is going online “and trying to see what new businesses they can do in their spare time”.
The majority of banking transactions now taking place online included bill payment, checking of account balances and transferring of funds, he said. Harrison said persons were also comfortable using ATMS to carry out their various transactions.
And he predicts that over the coming years as more people accept alternative banking channels, there could be a move away from the need to have people standing in a line inside a bank.
Furthermore, he forecasts that in the future people would not have to complain about standing in a queue for any extended period with few tellers, since they would “walk in for essential service that cannot be delivered other places”.
“So I think the focus will be more on how can we serve customers away from the bank to make it more convenient for them, as opposed to how we service the ones that come into the bank,” he said.
And as the banks start to move away from having a queue system, he expects them to continue their restructuring exercises.
“I think that as the world of banking changes, technology will also change, and that will also have an impact on how banks are structured,” he said.
“So if you look at ATMs, even though we are all accustomed to them now, they weren’t always here, and the result has been that there is a whole back office built around ATMs –– ATM settlement, cash movements, security for ATMs. So that in itself has been a restructure.
“So banks, like any other business, will continue to restructure and rejig its configuration to do what makes the most sense at that point, given the technology in place at that point,” explained Harrison.