Digital Technologies will Accelerate Branch Transformation, Not Make Them Extinct

Retail banking is evolving at an accelerated pace. Globally, banks are facing disruptions from multiple directions. Business and economic realities have reduced the total number of US bank branches by 3,000 between 2009 and 2012 – a decrease of 3% over the 3-year period. In Spain alone, banks have closed 5,000 branches or 12% of their overall capacity since the financial crisis began in 2008, lowering the total branch count to approximately 40,000 in 2012.
That is not all. Digital technologies have also brought a significant shift in consumer banking behavior. The percentage of US banking customers who prefer to bank online jumped to 62% in 2011, up from 36% the previous year. Today, four of the top five transactional banking activities in North America – bill pay, viewing balances/transactions, viewing statements and money transfer – are happening online.
This brings us to the key question of this paper: do brick-and-mortar branches have a role to play in the future of retail banking?