Banking Channels Observations from Asia and Europe

by Edward O'Brien 0

A recent trip to Singapore that includedstops in Tokyo and London offered insight into the ever-evolvingand ever-changing global banking channels environment, particularlywithin the ATM and mobile banking channels.

These self-service channels increasingly offer capabilities thathad previously been available only in branches, increasing thereach and level of service available to customers.

Many value-added services exist in — and between — thesechannels. Examples include an ability to withdraw funds in assortedcurrencies, new methods for depositing cash and checks, bill-paycapabilities, and increased choice regarding account transfers,both within a financial institution and with person-to-persontransfers outside of the home financial institution. Additionally,mobile phone topoffs and transit ticket refills are (or will soonbe) available in various countries and regions.

Coincidently, Citi announced Citibank Express in Asia at the sametime, which it positions as being a next-generation banking channelfor the company. An extension of its Smart Banking projectannounced in 2008, it includes a “smart banking” machine that willenable customers to conduct many (if not most) of their bankingtransactions at an ATM, including opening accounts and applying forloans, cards and cashier’s checks.

Citibank Express is equipped with an online banking connection,video-conferencing and biometric capabilities for customer identityauthentication. A customer can start a transaction on a computer ormobile device and complete it on Citibank Express, andvice-versa.

The first Citibank Express machines were unveiled in Citibankbranches in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The companyplans to add in-branch and out-of-branch locations across Asia andglobally later this year. Citibank Express marks the first majorredesign of the ATM since Citibank introduced unattended branchesin the 1970s.

Another movement underway is the use of the EMV (Europay,MasterCard, and Visa) global standard for credit and debit paymentcards based on chip card technology across the channels. Thismovement is in various stages of deployment in other countries andcontinents, and is heading to the US.

Such advancements in channels processes and technologies are butthe tip of the iceberg, and new capabilities are being consideredby financial institutions and technology providers alike. The look,feel, and capabilities of channels will continue to evolve to meetcustomer and financial institution needs, and will positionchannels as integral components of financial institutions’strategic plans worldwide for years to come.