Everyday Bank Blog

Bleeding-Edge, not Bleeding: The Role of Technology in Branch Reinvention

There are so many industry articles proclaiming the death of the bank branch that I’m reminded of that Mark Twain quote that goes something like this: “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

It is true that the branch is not what it was. However, rather than being at the end of life, the branch is on the cusp of a new life—if banks make changes.

Through consumers’ eyes

Our latest consumer research study—the 2015 North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey—surveyed more than 4,000 consumers in the United States and Canada. Data revealed trends in consumer attitudes toward the branch, including the following:

  • The majority of consumers (86 percent) would not switch branches if their local bank branch closed.
  • For the first time, consumers rank good online banking services—not convenient branch location—as the leading reason for staying with the bank.
  • Some consumers over 55 (43 percent) prefer the online channel to branch locations.

These results suggest that customers are redefining banking convenience. It is increasingly about online access over proximity to the branch.

Even so, customers don’t want to totally abandon the branch. They simply have new expectations of what they want the branch experience to be.

A hunger for technology options

Banks have opportunities to meet these changing customer expectations—and technology has an important role to play. This is exciting news for banks looking for ways to bring customers to the branch beyond hiring a barista and investing in comfortable seating.

As part of the survey, we asked consumers to rank a number of in-branch services and technologies in the order of importance. This chart shows their preferences:

View the image.

View the image.

The data tells us that the top three technologies that consumers are most interested in having accessible to them at the branch are interactive screens, self-service remote advisors and biometric technologies.

The branch as a technology hub

The survey reveals a watershed moment for banks in developing their branch strategies. This moment involves changing the mindset about the relationship between technology and the branch.

Because online and mobile are inherently technology-driven banking channels and the branch is the prime physical channel, it is easy to think of the branch as the “non-technical” channel. But it does not have to be this way.

Banks can bring interactive technologies to the branch, and some are already doing this. The vision is to create a hub where customers can learn about and use technologies to complete financial transactions or improve their financial literacy. Customers can take what they learn into their activities outside of the branch. Technology becomes a bridge between channels rather than an either-or proposition.

When we talk about branch reinvention, it goes without saying that while technology is non-negotiable, it is only one element of a broader transformation. The end game for the new branch experience must be immersive and meaningful customer experiences.

Learn more about Accenture’s latest consumer digital banking survey.

On Thursday, June 12, join me and Wayne Busch, Robert Mullhall and Jodie Wallis of Accenture for a Twitter chat to discuss the Accenture North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey 

Chat questions will cover the customer digital experience, becoming more than a transactional bank and the #EverydayBank. Chat is 3pm-4pm Eastern and led by Accenture Banking Twitter account, @BankingInsights. Chat hashtag is #NABankStudy.

 If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still watch the conversation by following #NABankStudy on Twitter (account not required).

To participate in the chat, log in with your Twitter account and follow the #NABankStudy hashtag. Official chat questions will come from @BankingInsights.

Payment Predictions for 2015 (2 of 3)

In my second blog in the payment predictions series, we address the developments in the cards domain.

Loyalty solutions for digital commerce will emerge, providing seamless integration of loyalty point redemption and discounts with payments processes, in support of omni-channel retailing. A driver for this is margin pressure from regulators capping interchange fees, forcing payment service providers to focus on new revenue streams and value added services.

Card fraud and data breaches will continue to be a big issue, particularly in the USA where magnetic stripe cards are still widespread. Companies with millions of cards-on-file for e-commerce/m-commerce will be vulnerable.


  1. Loyalty 2.0 will emerge as a theme, with common, omni-channel solutions appearing in the market, integrated seamlessly into digital payments processes.

Margin Pressure

  1. Payments companies will continue to face downward pressures on fee structures and will search for new revenue streams and value added services to replace lost revenue from regulatory caps and legal restraints.

Card Fraud

  1. Massive data breaches of magnetic stripe cards will continue, particularly in the USA – companies with millions of card on file for ecommerce/mcommerce will be vulnerable
  2. The industry will be more engaged to implement remedial actions such as EMV, tokenisation, and end-to-end encryption
  3. However, these remedial actions may not be implemented fast enough in vulnerable countries such as the USA to stop new data breaches.

My next and last blog in the series will cover the predictions on Bank operating models, infrastructure and technology, so stay tuned for further information.

Channels to Watch in Retail Banking

It feels like a lifetime ago that banking only meant going to the branch. Digital disruption has redefined the channel landscape in retail banking. Consumers have more channel choices than ever as they select among branch, online and mobile banking options.

Changing the channels

If there is one thing to know about digital disruption it is this: it is never static. As technologies evolve and new ones emerge, digital continually raises the bar on itself, revolutionizing what is possible through continuous innovation, often at a rapid pace.

Most of us have had the experience of buying the latest digital gadget only to find that it is essentially outdated at the point of purchase. This is because the next big thing is on the horizon.

Tuning into consumers

This kind of advance of digital will impact the banking channel landscape. The results of Accenture’s 2015 North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey—our multi-year survey of about 4,000 consumers in the United States and Canada—bear this out in interesting ways.

Beyond their growing acceptance of primary digital channels, consumers are showing emerging interest in some digital channels that were not even on the radar for our 2013 survey:

  • 3 percent of consumers say they use wearables at least weekly for banking activities today. Banks have opportunities to explore the use of wearables in connection with biometric identifiers, which can improve security in wholly new ways.
  • 15 percent of consumers report using tablets weekly for banking. Banks have opportunities to integrate the use of tablets into the branch banking experience.
  • Video conferencing. 2 percent of consumers are using video conferencing weekly. With banks investing in video conferencing technology both within and outside the branch, it will be interesting to see how these percentages changes in next year’s survey.
  • Social media. 5 percent of consumers report using social media at least weekly for banking. However, most prefer this channel for information access, not for banking.

Multiple channels, one view

Read the report.

Read the report.

While uptake of these channels is still in the earliest stages, banks can benefit by monitoring how they mature in the coming years. In addition to tracking specific channels, banks should have the big picture in mind too. It is important to understand the specifics of each channel and how the channel mix aligns for a unified customer experience.

Channel integration will become increasingly important as the channel mix grows. Our research shows that banks continue to have an opportunity to improve channel integration. Data indicate that only 34 percent of consumers believe that the cross-channel experience is completely seamless. Moreover, about 20 percent say that the customer experience is not at all seamless.

As the channel mix shifts and consumer usage and preference patterns change, banks must ensure their channel strategy has flexibility to account for the continual impact of digital disruption.

Learn more about Accenture’s latest consumer digital banking survey.

Using Social Media to Provide Advice, Facilitate Access and Offer Value to Customers

In our last post, we discussed two of the innovative ways financial institutions are driving the customer experience through digital. In this final post in the series about banking innovations recognized during the 2014 Efma-Accenture Distribution and Marketing Innovation Awards, we’ll look at how banks are using social media to provide better value to customers.

A bank account fully integrated with social network platforms

Kotak Mahindra Bank of India has launched the Jifi program—the first fully integrated social bank account that incorporates social networking platforms with mainstream banking.

Offering a seamless on-the-go banking experience through social media, Kotak targets digitally-savvy and socially active customers. Customers who use the Jifi network can:

  • Earn transaction-based loyalty points for specific banking activities.
  • Earn social loyalty points for inviting and adding friends to the network.
  • Share points with friends through social networks.
  • Receive banking account updates through Twitter.

The program bypasses the need for local branches, lets the bank participate in its customers’ social network ecosystems and benefits customers by eliminating the need for them to remember passwords or account numbers.

An app that integrates bank accounts with Facebook

La Caixa of Spain has developed a free Facebook banking app. The app is hosted in a fully secure and private environment—Facebook has no access to any personal or bank information.

The app allows customers to:

  • View account balances and transactions.
  • Pay bills.
  • Personalize new cards, choosing from their Facebook photos or from a catalog of over 1,000 different designs, based on their preferences and Facebook “likes.”
  • Make micro-donations of up to €15 to charities run by La Caixa Welfare Projects.

Eventually the app will also allow person-to-person payments.

By successfully targeting Facebook users and social media-savvy customers, these banks are showing that financial institutions can have a place in the social network ecosystem, providing advice, facilitating access and offering greater value to their customers.

If you would like to learn more about these and the other banking innovations recognized by the Distribution and Marketing Innovation Awards, a joint initiative from Efma and Accenture, visit the other posts in this series.

Is there Enough “Retail” in Retail Banks?

Can you remember when banks had no competitors?

The market’s saturation with competitors from within and outside of the financial services sector has almost conditioned us to believe that banking disruption has always been as pervasive as it is today. But we know better. It is an unprecedented time for banks, with competitors coming from all sides, including the retail industry.

The retail advantage

This banking trend is not so surprising. After all, beyond the products and services that retailers sell, the essence of the retail business is about developing strong customer relationships and delivering customer experiences that go beyond pure transactions. This is certainly something that banks want to master for their customers.

And the retail industry as a whole has been a digital pioneer. The industry has led the way in providing non-stop digital customers with relevant, personalized and seamless experiences across their channels of choice, including their physical presence.

On the offensive

As such, the question that banks should be asking—and many already are—is clear. What lessons can we learn—and what practices should we implement—from the retail industry?

One of the things that I am excited to see is that some banks are taking an offensive and proactive stance here, rather than a defensive and reactive one. In other words, their approach is rooted in the philosophy, if you can’t beat them, join them.

Results from Accenture’s 2015 North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey—our multi-year survey of over 4,000 consumers in the United States and Canada—reveal how important this is for banks. For the first time, consumers rank online banking services as the top reason that they stay with their banks.

As online and mobile channels continue to come of age, and new digital channels emerge, the challenge for banks is to reinvent the branch’s critical role in the customer relationship. Some banks have already started to do this using retail-inspired models.

A community experience

Consider the story of Umpqua Bank’s flagship store in San Francisco, winner of a 2014 EFMA- Accenture Distribution & Marketing Innovation Award in the physical distribution category. Note that the use of the word “store” over “branch” is not an oversight. I’ve seen many banks use this word over the last decade, but it has often been used in the wrong connotation as a place to amass products instead of as a place to shop for the product they need.

Is there Enough Retail in Retail Banks

What is Umqua doing differently? To connect with and welcome customers and the broader community, Umqua designed this store, which opened in August 2013, to envelop customers like the best retail stores do—and then some.

In addition to its strong design sensibility steeped in local and regional influences, the San Francisco store includes breakthrough features and services not typically found at a bank branch, such as:

  • External screens with community information.
  • Public access to tablets.
  • Comfortable chairs in inviting conversation nooks.
  • A “demo bar” to showcase key products and services in an interactive manner.

This store is a reflection of the bank’s longstanding “store” concept. Umpqua develops branches that are more public gathering spaces than they are narrow destinations for financial transactions.

This spirit of innovation focused on taking what the retail industry does well and then making it better is an important lesson for all banks feeling new retail competitors nipping at their heels. Retail banks should use their local branches as a strategic advantage in keeping those non-bank competitors at bay by making better use of their stores as true places to meet their needs.

Learn more about the 2015 North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey.

Driving Customer Experience through Digital

In recent posts, we’ve shared a number of the banking innovations recognized during the 2014 Distribution and Marketing Innovation Awards, a joint initiative from Efma and Accenture. We’ve highlighted mobile banking innovations, and shown how big data and customer insights have the potential to benefit both banks and their customers. In this post, we’ll look at innovative ways financial institutions are driving the customer experience through digital.

Helping customers use internet banking and non-banking services

Customers who are not familiar with technology have been somewhat left behind in the digital banking era, but Barclays has introduced the Digital Eagles program to help its less technically savvy customers understand how to use the internet and mobile banking apps.

The Digital Eagles campaign leverages the Barclays branch network and in-branch employees to help customers use digital banking services as well as with non-banking activities such as Skype, Facebook, online shopping and downloading mobile apps. Working in partnership with Age UK, the program offers a range of in-branch courses. The program kicked-off in August, 2013, with Gordon Banks, the England 1966 World Cup hero and a notorious technophobe, getting online with the support of Barclays Eagle, Pat Judd.

Barclays anticipates continuing to support customers through Skype and Facebook, and expects the bank itself will benefit from a right-channeling effect.

Helping distressed borrowers find jobs

A second program that is driving customer experience through digital is an industry-first program to assist unemployed mortgage borrowers searching for a job. This program, launched by Fifth Third Bancorp, is a free service that allows unemployed mortgage borrowers to get advice from re-employment firm NextJob, to help them find employment and to avoid foreclosure.

The pilot scheme provides unemployed borrowers with one-on-one dedicated coaching, weekly webinars and online job search software, fully paid for by the bank. The service helps unemployed people:

  • Create an effective resume and cover letter that could get the attention of hiring managers.
  • Develop and carry out a detailed job search action plan.
  • Evaluate career direction and identify skills that could be transferred to another industry or field.
  • Discover jobs that are available, but never advertised.
  • Use the latest and most effective internet tools and techniques.
  • Train and prepare for successful interviews.

Fifth Third Bank is the first financial institution to offer this type of assistance to mortgage customers. In the pilot, almost 40 percent of targeted customers were fully employed after six months.

These programs show that when banks cultivate innovative partnerships and a focus on customer needs, even where needs are outside the traditional banking domain, banks can form stronger relationships with their customers and play a central role in their lives—and become an Everyday Bank.

In our final post in this series, we’ll look at how banks are taking advantage of social media to offer more value to customers.

Crypto Currencies: the Internet of Value

Bitcoin and other crypto protocols are one of the most interesting innovations in payments industry, which are generating enormous buzz as a new currency, commodity or technology. They are a digital representation of value, not issued by a central bank, which can be used as an alternative to make payments at no cost for the users and settled in real time.

Despite the price, Bitcoin ended last year with a 67% decline, making it the worst-performing currency, about 103,000 transactions happen every day and 82,000 merchants in the US accept Bitcoin, including top brands like Overstock, Microsoft, Dell.

Bitcoin: number of daily transactions (Jan 2009 – April 2015)

Source: Blockchain.info

Source: Blockchain.info

Crypto-currencies are not backed by a central bank and users are exposed to the risk of frauds and bankruptcy. It may not be realistic to expect a wide adoption but it is clear that there is a place in the economy for crypto-currencies.

What is really innovative is the technology behind crypto-currencies: the block chain technology. It enables settlement in a decentralized way using a network of computers mutually agreeing to validate and record a transaction through a consensus based approach. Depending on how the block chain is applied, transactions may be settled in real time without using independent networks and payments systems running on centralized and proprietary software, which increase cost of processing and time to settlement.

Ripple is a great example of combining the benefits of the block chain technology without exposing payments users to the risk of frauds and bankruptcy. Through its open source protocol it allows banks – and not end users – to exchange values in real time and at almost no cost, when compared to the existing payments networks. While users are protected by the existing local KYC/AML regulations, the applicability and enforceability of these regulations is often difficult to follow as well as the principles of the ‘Travel Rule’[1].

The potential use of crypto currencies may be seen in areas such as real time payment system for a wide range of user cases, I expect we will see initial adoption for B2B transaction models given the clear value propositions that will be well understood by sophisticated commercial users.  Alternatively, I expect initial offerings will shy away from consumer focused business models due to the array of consumer protections around the world. However, the potential opportunities are not limited to payment orientated use cases. The block chain offers the ability to utilise the publicly distributed ledger in a variety of non-payment applications such as the ability to cryptographically secure a legal contract detailing a physical asset’s worth to a bitcoin transaction and be traded among digital wallets or the ability to connect a digital wallet to a smart meter for example, a vending machine.

With payments becoming even more digital, crypto-currencies are opening the era of internet of value, and it will be critical for banks understand benefits and evaluate opportunities. Some banks like the German Fidor Bank, Cross River Bank and CBW Bank in the US have already adopted Ripple’s protocol for real time cross border payments but the benefits for banks could be much more.

1 The Travel Rule requires all financial institutions to pass on certain information to the next financial institution involved in a transaction.

Poland: A Country to Watch in the New Era of Banking

Poland is a well-capitalized market where banks are boldly stepping into the digital era. It was energizing to recently hear from these innovative banks.

Some banks in Poland are already operating as Everyday Banks. They have defined a new normal where they are using technology to build a completely new customer experience. They are using data, analytics and the ecosystem to personalize the experience. Perhaps most importantly, they are getting ahead of many disruptive forces to remain sustainable in the future.

While there is abundant opportunity in Poland, these disruptive forces also create challenges and opportunities. For example:

  • Competing with new entrants and disruptors through lean and effective delivery models, forcing banks to reengineer entire core processes to digital.
  • Becoming more collaborative and establishing ecosystems to get more interactions with customers and be at the center of their digital lives thru unique customer experiences and new digital native products and services
  • Redefining the role of the branch and the mix of channels into a new “phygital” (physical+ digital) interaction model
  • Refocusing the talent strategy to recycle existing talent to new needs and models, while making banking attractive for new required talent pools in the new digital banking era.

LATB-book-430x280These are some of the challenges we address in our book, A New Era in Banking: Landscape After the Battle. We also offer a window into what will happen in banking in the next 10 to 15 years. Based on my recent discussions, there are several innovative Everyday Banks in Poland that will continue to thrive well into the next decade. One that comes to mind is online mBank. Accenture had the opportunity to work with mBank to rebuild its digital presence, including a new customer-centric banking system that offers a stellar customer experience and real-time marketing capabilities.

mBank is just one example of how Poland’s banks are taking leaps into the digital evolution. I personally am excited to see what the future for this region of promise.

Explore highlights of our book, A New Era in Banking: Landscape After the Battle.

Learn more about Accenture’s work with mBank.

How Can Traditional Banks Compete with Startups in a Digital Landscape?


Accenture is pleased to be sponsoring the FinTechStage conference in Milan, Italy from March 30-31. The conference brings together three communities—FinTech startups, investors and financial institutions—to discuss the state of the art in the local FinTech ecosystem, the relevant trends and what we can learn from outside to advance the local stage.

I’m excited to be presenting on the second day of the conference on our Accenture strategy for developing a Customer-Driven Digital Bank. We think this is the future of banking in a digital landscape.

In our work with many of the world’s top banks, we have a bird’s-eye view of how digital is affecting the industry and it’s clear that the traditional role of the bank is under threat:

  • Digital has set a new customer experience standard.
  • Competitors from other industries have the potential to consign banks to a limited role as utilities.
  • Startups have proved they can pick off parts of the banking value chain and improve performance.
  • Technology giants can accelerate the pace of disruption at scale—they have strong balance sheets, access to capital, hold huge amounts of customer data and are not hampered by complex legacy systems and infrastructure.

Banks must also learn to operate at two speeds:

  • Transforming their operations and technology capabilities.
  • Creating a portfolio of targeted innovations, by developing them internally, backing startups or acquiring other businesses.

To succeed in this new competitive landscape requires a “3 Hats” governance model including Banking, Technology and Digital entrepreneurs to manage the GO Digital and BE Digital agenda consistently:

  • Banking Entrepreneur. Managing the core franchise, balance short and long term priorities, and create conditions for the 2-speed agenda, while they ensure risk management, business viability and strong financial performance.
  • Digital entrepreneur. With a deep understanding of evolving customer needs in the digital world, the digital entrepreneur can define the digital innovation agenda, anticipate customer needs, identify disruptive innovations and build the necessary digital capabilities.
  • Technology entrepreneur. By helping to make the banks’ IT systems more open, scalable and flexible, the technology entrepreneur enables banks to incorporate and support new innovations, use technology in news ways, such as creating an open technology ecosystem or recognizing the potential value in bank data.

Traditional banks have many advantages. They hold more information about their customers than any other type of firm, including data on individuals’ incomes, savings and spending patterns, as well as information on small and medium enterprises’ merchant transactions, cash positions and credit needs. But to capitalize on these advantages in the digital era, they need to change rapidly, be agile and be able to provide customers with products and services that offer the same levels of convenience, simplicity and speed to which they have become accustomed from other services they use every day.

What are your thoughts on how digital is affecting the banking world or our strategy for succeeding in this competitive landscape?   Leave a comment below with your thoughts or examples of innovation in banking locally.

Why Intelligent Security is So Smart for Retail Banks

The topic of banking security comes up often in my conversations with clients across the industry. This doesn’t surprise me at all—and it probably doesn’t surprise you either considering how much is at stake for banks.

As I discussed in a recent blog post on this topic, the already complex issue of banking security is even more complex for banks in a digital environment. Threats are elusive and epidemic. Enterprise boundaries are blurring. And the digital business model inherently introduces new vulnerabilities—from more mobile solutions to involvement with third party service providers.

So how can retail banks truly defend themselves in the digital environment?

As Accenture explores in a timely point of view, Intelligent Security: Defending the Digital Business, every digital business must trade passive, defensive approaches for proactive approaches rooted in business objectives. Think of a martial arts master’s ability to mount an active defense in the face of threats. This is the new face of digital business security.

The intelligent security concept is especially relevant for banks. It means embracing a threat-centric mindset over a compliance-centered one—which can be especially difficult in an industry so heavily focused on compliance.

To lay the groundwork for this transition, banks must address common weaknesses in the security value chain. Smarter security means that banks must connect business and security interests, think beyond compliance, govern the extended enterprise, enable dynamic approaches and enhance security resources.

Some of the key building blocks of intelligent security for banks include the following:

  • Maintain a business foundation. Develop a comprehensive strategy aligned with business goals.
  • Protect a strong core. Protect core business assets via enterprise security controls.
  • Look beyond the enterprise. Support extended enterprise safeguards for a secure digital banking ecosystem.
  • Stop guessing with Insight driven approaches. Act on cyber threat intelligence before threats occur with advanced analytics know-how.
  • Monitor and tweak via performance measurement. Measure business outcomes with security metrics.

Accenture Intelligent Security Defending the Digital Enterprise-F.3

Transforming banking security programs from static to adaptive will be a significant undertaking for most financial services organizations. I encourage you to read the point of view to explore key steps to developing a holistic security approach.