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Pressing all the right buttons


The self-service branch is the embodiment of 'phigital' banking, as Rob Leiponis, President & CEO of Parabit, explains.




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Fintech Finance: What have been some of the biggest changes to branch and ATM security and how well have banks dealt with these challenges?

Rob Leiponis: Until recently there was a big disparity between security supporting the customer walking into a traditional branch to withdraw cash, versus walking into an ATM lobby or tellerless branch. Technology was previously geared more towards a staffed retail environment and not the 24-hour self-service model.

Since 2010 and the rapid change of customer behaviour towards mobile banking, we’ve seen a shift in philosophy, where banks are investing more resources into self-service, leveraging surveillance, near-field communication (NFC), Bluetooth, beacons and biometrics for access, authentication and remote facilities supervision. This shift has generated a huge synergy between security and self service. One supports the other to the extent that the line between customer experience and security is becoming blurred. Mobile devices that provide contactless payment, capturing customer data, are now also providing access control, thereby improving the customer experience and reducing the risk of fraud.

Utilizing Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacon technology to communicate with various digital touch points throughout the branch, banks can now execute and capture a myriad of data points – from cueing access control to customer counting and tracking where and how long customers are spending time. They can then use this information to generate a targeted marketing campaign around relevant customer interests.

FF: How much automation is being introduced into the branch, both for customers and for staff?

RL: We see a dramatic increase in the amount banks are spending on technology in 24-hour, self-service environments as well as added security to support, protect and supervise these facilities. In the US, there is a huge increase in 24-hour self-service – tellerless branches with access control that works with contactless tech as well HD cameras that provide a facial recognition plug-in for identification.

In terms of the staff, automation allows a bank to be much more efficient with its tellers, so they can be utilized in more challenging positions. It allows them to focus on providing a better customer experience. There are economies, of course, but also opportunities to cross-train staff on more platforms.


The line between customer experience and security is becoming blurred

FF: We hear a lot about the ‘branch of the future’. What does this mean to you?


RL: With ever-increasing innovation in cryptocurrency, mobile and online banking, there will be a reduced footprint of bricks-and-mortar retail branches. That said, many institutions are moving to a hub-and-spoke topology for their retail locations, which are more than ever providing new interactive digital and remote access technology. Successful models are being tested and deployed that showcase customer-centric experiences with interactive user touch points that are easy to navigate.

Digital access channels are continually evolving to meet the lifestyle demands of different customer segments. In turn, institutions must maintain a mechanism or service provider that supports real-time evaluation of customer behavior data to identify, adapt and modify locations and digital touch points to maximize customer accessibility within their desired markets.

FF: As the volume of physical cash continues to increase, how can banks be more efficient in its delivery?

RL: I doubt cash will level off or decline within the next five to 10 years. Plus, in my opinion for cryptocurrencies to become stable enough to use in replacement of cash, they must be backed by vault currency or gold, silver, etc.

Technology enhancements will continue to expand the capabilities of ATMs and self-service tech as well as the ways customers interact with them. In the US, the pursuit of safety, security and the customer experience has driven ATMs and other self-service technology into vestibules and spiked the enhancement and growth of 24-hour banking. Defining best practices for the efficient protection and servicing of these environments will be another layer for banks to manage.

FF: How will the branch and its position in the banking model evolve?


RL: A significant number of branches are closing, but equal numbers are opening as self-service technology filled tellerless branches with centralised and distributed video conferencing.

Parabit’s role in this branch of the future will be to continue to innovate in contactless access control, integrated with a mobile app that provides NFC and Bluetooth access control/customer count and dwell time stats as well as customer rewards/advertising functions, integrated with multi-layer credentialing.

Our MMR Cloud service will improve customer authentication and collect statistics on location behaviors that drive targeted mobile promotions and rewards/couponing via a software development kit, integrated into a bank’s mobile app.


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