In 2022, most banks assumed that pandemic behaviour was forever. This accelerated plans to shutter banks and slash ATM networks. As we go into 2023, those pandemic behaviours are being eclipsed by how economies are struggling, and individuals and businesses are all struggling to get by. We are already seeing a return to the use of cash, and we may see a need for local services to local communities and local businesses and local consumers.
So many of those decisions taken in 2022 may need to be revisited. And it’s not just about access to cash, of course, but access to all banking services especially as more people seek advice and help. I think in 2023, we’ll see government and regulators also intervening to slow the pace with which banks are driving people on to their digital channels.
Shared banking hubs
Fitful experimentation about how banks could share branch operations will come to an end in 2023 when we expect to see some serious work on shared banking hubs. But these cannot be ersatz branches that offer little more than a paying-in service or guidance on how to use mobile banking.
White label branches should incorporate digital self-service hubs that provide full access to branded banking services 24/7 using automation and video banking. This new kind of branch will be something that involves not only the legacy banks. Neo-banks are going to take a serious look at the concept as they don’t have the ability to engage physically with their customers, and bring them into a safe space to engage with them.
More effort will need to avoid these new style branches being white elephants. Technology choices will be key. There needs to be a careful use of AI and machine learning to help customers of all generations navigate through new self and assisted service experience more easily and quickly.
This will increase adoption, and therefore the success of the model. Returning to access to cash, cashback without payment at retailers was launched in some markets like the UK. it’s a reasonably good idea but one that may struggle.
ATM pooling is something else that should proliferate in 2023. For banks under political and public pressure on access to cash, this approach squares the circle well. As examples in Belgium and the Netherlands show, it allows banks to save operating costs while actually opening up ATMs in towns and villages which have never had an ATM before.
Mark Aldred, banking industry expert at Auriga,