Banks Invest in Technology as Customers Demand Speed and Convenience

November 5, 2014 DATAMARK

With consumers demanding effective and secure online and mobile banking systems and other innovations, banks and credit unions have responded by investing in and empowering their technology divisions, according to a recent Washington Post article.

Capital One Financial now has a technology incubator called Capital One Labs in Arlington, Va. About 50 employees work on mobile apps, secure payment systems and other technology fueled projects such as the company’s new mobile wallet, which integrates with Apple Pay.

PNC Financial Services Group, headquartered Pennsylvania, has been changing the face of branch banking over the past year with the continued rollout of its “universal branch” concept. Instead of standing in lines to wait for a teller, customers complete transactions at smart ATMs. Business that requires a personal touch involves meeting with a financial consultant at a “concierge station” kiosk. Armed with a tablet computer, the consultant is cross trained to handle a wide variety of financial services and requests.

The concierge concept has been driven by the trend of customers handling more and more transactions on their own online or via mobile apps, PNC officials said.

“As customers visit branches less to conduct a transaction and more to get advice, that requires us to rethink the layout, the format and how we manage our branches,” Thomas Kunz, director of digital for PNC, told the newspaper.

Large banks and credit unions have the resources to develop in-house technology teams, freeing themselves from third-party software developers who may not understand customers’ needs as well as the bank does. Navy Federal Credit Union set up its own technology team two and a half years ago to develop mobile apps packed with features, such as the ability to apply for credit and debit cards, redeem cash rewards and receive real-time transaction updates.

Wells Fargo’s strategy of opening high-tech branches has helped the company save money by eliminating a lot of paper documents. Touch screens, smart ATMs and other digital innovations have helped the company reduce its footprint for storing documents at branches to about 10 percent, compared to about 40 percent of space that was needed to store documents at a traditional branch.

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