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ON THE RIGHT: Major role for technology


GLYNE HARRISON

ON THE RIGHT: Major role for technology

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I THINK AS A SOCIETY we have not yet fully caught on to using channels besides branches and there is very little that can be done in the physical branch that cannot be done through alternative channels, and I think as an industry we certainly do have to try to do a better job of converting persons who are stuck on going into the branch to using these alternative channels.

We have to let them know that it is safe, that it is secure and that once they use it that there will not be anything that happens that they need to fear.

And I think it is just a matter of getting out those fears and concerns, as we try to migrate persons from the physical branch to the softer services offered by online banking, ATMs, and point-of-sale.

In terms of persons wanting to physically use the branches, I think that is from a socialising perspective in terms of seeing faces that they know, but in terms of functionalities and actual things that can be done, a lot more people, especially at retirees age, they are a lot more comfortable using technology and going to use machines and so on.

I think we will partially move away from the queue, but whether the queue is standing or sitting there will always be a queue.

It is also a cultural thing and I think that as we go further along the curve and accept some of the norms that are happening, and for productivity and efficiency sake, we will start to see that there is a transition away from the physical queue.

The focus will be more on how we can serve customers away from the bank to make it more convenient for them as opposed to how we service the ones that come into the bank.

You will see more focus being placed on trying to work with customers to deliver services on demand.

Banks continue to restructure. Over the past year or so there were some branches that closed as a result of mergers, and acquisitions and the proximity of various branches to each other.

I think that as the world of banking changes technology will also change and that will also have an impact on how banks are structured.

If you look at a bank today versus a bank 15 years ago you are going to see some things in place that weren’t in place before and that has also created departments that weren’t in place before.

So if you look at ATMs, even though we are all accustomed to them now, they weren’t always here and the result has been that there is a whole back office built around ATMs.

So banks, like other businesses, will continue to restructure and to rejig configurations to do what makes the most sense at that point in time given the technology in place at that point in time.

• Glyne Harrison is president of the Barbados Bankers’ Association and chief executive officer of First Citizens Bank (Barbados) Limited.

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