The prospect of restarting the economy of bringing all manner of everyday life in the U.S. back to some semblance of “normal” has challenges — and opportunities for banks, especially community banks and credit unions.
The challenge lies with serving the needs of the individual who may be hesitant to go back to the old ways of banking — of walking up to teller windows, of handling cash in envelopes.
The opportunity, Doug Brown, senior vice president and general manager of NCR Digital Banking, told Karen Webster, lies in embracing a “digital-first” mindset that can create a better experience — even a touchless experience — for consumers.
Call it a way to be physical even while being virtual.
As Brown told Webster, “It is the digital platform that can enable that change. When we look at everything that has been leveraged and assembled quickly — and in responding to what is clearly unprecedented demand for different services across digital channels — what stands out is the flexibility and agility of the underlying platforms.”
The ability to bring new services to market, to pivot quickly, will be critical as states begin to reopen across the next few months.
In many cases, the physical worlds in which we do business will be altered, perhaps permanently, in the wake of social distancing.
The Interactive Teller
Brown said there had been examples of a shift toward digital-first use cases already taking root. He noted there’s been a significant increase in demand for interactive teller machines (ITMs).
That demand had been significant even before the coronavirus hit in 2020, he told Webster, because they’ve allowed banks — especially smaller banks — to reap the cost benefits of flexible workforce management, and the ability to service machines during off-hours.
Now, he said, “the need for a platform like this is more important than ever.”
Brown recounted that branch hours had been restricted if branches are operating at all. He said there had been a continued embraced of drive-thru services at banks, and a continued desire by consumers to have at least some human interaction as they conduct transactions or address their daily financial needs. The shift toward interactive tellers, he said, allows customer demand to be satisfied while allowing staff to work from home.
Reinventing The ATM
Banking in the post-pandemic age, and with a “digital-first” mindset may also see a reinvention of the ATM, said Brown.
The ATM may indeed become a “workhorse” piece of technology on site, with capabilities expanded well beyond the confines of just spitting out cash.
Combined with virtual teller functionality, he said, banks can effectively adopt a “branch anywhere” deployment that can serve a variety of new use cases.
The evolution of the ATM depends on a shift toward what Brown termed a…