Despite the emergence of Internet banking and call centers in recent years, the banking industry has come to realize that there is still life in the retail branch. There is a trend toward revitalizing branches with new technologies and making them bank services
selling machines. The banking industry learned the lesson
that for major financial decisions, such as setting up accounts and buying
mortgages or insurance, customers like to visit their local branch. Having
realized this, banks have since then been working to equip branches with
technology that makes them flexible spaces to issue personal financial advice
and to market personalized financial products.

However, it is not only the banks that
are learning something about the branch. Customers will also need to be educated—so
that they use tellers for the major decisions and in-branch ATMs for the small,
high-volume transactions.

other words, now
that banks see that branches are effective vehicles to grow and cross-sell bank
assets, branch automation should become a strategic investment. A new report
from Celent, “Branch
Automation Solutions”
, shows that banks are beginning to come to grips
with this, taking advantage of increasingly obsolete branch systems to replace
them with new technology.

vendors have responded by targeting banks, small and large, with what Celent
calls CRM Lite. CRM Lite tries to avoid some of the complexity of full blown
CRM, by integrating with the teller and banking systems out-of-the-box, and in
the case of vendors that are also providing the back office, integrating to the
core as well.

to Bart Narter, author of the report and senior analyst in the banking group at
Celent, “CRM Lite solutions from the branch automation vendors are less
risky to deploy since a great deal of the integration work has already been
completed. Banks are having real success with this CRM Lite, which can be
measured at the top and bottom lines.”

well as being relatively easy to deploy, the resulting kiosks offer basic
advice and sell services far more effectively than tellers, as well as provide
customers with the privacy they enjoy when performing tasks like transferring
money, paying bills, and finding basic financial information.

NCR—a major
player in the ATM space—agrees. Cash dispensing has been the primary ATM
application to date. “The ATM really took off as a single-application
device for cash dispensing,” says Pat Cronin, senior vice president for
NCR’s Financial Solutions Division. But now consumers are ready for other
self-service possibilities and NCR believes there is a new high-volume transaction
on the horizon: “Ever since, people have been looking for the next major
application to automate. Our research shows that deposits are it.”

example, at Fidelity Investments, ATMs from NCR are providing customers with a
no-envelope deposit system and image-containing receipts. Deposit capabilities
are also an important feature of the NCR ATMs at Caja Madrid, the second
largest savings bank in Spain, where cash and check deposits are credited in
real time and customers can obtain instant proof of the transaction through
NCR’s advanced imaging technology.

deposit-taking ATMs you can have an interaction that’s better than the
interaction you have with a person today,” says Cronin. “As a
consumer, you get more out of it: more information flow, greater speed, more
convenience, and possibly even greater movement and management of your

Statistics support the notion
that this opportunity exists in the deposits arena. Globally, about 80 percent
of all cash withdrawals occur at an ATM, while a remarkable number of deposits—70
percent in the United States—are still completed through a teller. Cronin
expects that deposits will eventually reach the same level of automation as
withdrawals. This is good news for banks, not least because they can realize
dramatic cost reductions at the same time as their customers are enjoying
greater access to services.

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