Is the Bank Branch Dead?

Is the Bank Branch Dead?

Not yet anyway but maybe it’s on life support!   It is hard not to notice that bank branches are are in many instances becoming smaller and although we haven’t seen them closing as yet, if overseas trends are going to be replicated here then it might not be long before they do.

As the country’s large retail banks figure out ways to defend their transactional fee margins in an increasingly crowded environment, the question is whether there is appetite to continue supporting a large branch footprint

As Standard Bank’s Chief Executive Sim Tshabala says: “Over time, as customers transact in a digital way, that trend is going to continue.”

“But it is also true: we believe that the traditional branch is dead but long live the branch! Branches will continue to exist, but the activity in the branch will be much more solutions and problem-solving type of activity.”

Although Tshabalala does not envisage a time when branches will cease to exist, he says that over time they will become fewer and smaller

A lot of the activity previously facilitated by the branch network, such as balance inquiries, will be done electronically.

Around 60% of rival Nedbank’s branch network is now digitally focused, with plans to convert all branches to this model in time.

Change is definitely afoot and whilst the days of regular visits to a bank branch to collect a cheque book, get balance statements or simply to have a cup of tea in the manager’s office may be very much things of the past, it seems branches will continue to exist in one form or another for the foreseeable future.  However, they will indeed be fewer and smaller.   We may even follow the UK trend where some branches only open on certain days.

  • 6 Mar, 2019