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Bank now

The Bank of the future is now

This week we launched our 50th Bank Now site - the new format branch designs which has transformed the way we do banking, with our customers, now and as we move into the future.

Our physical branch transformation has been in response to increased customer demands and the rapid rate of adoption of new technologies. The digital charge being led by customers is pushing all industries to constantly innovate and us to deliver ‘banking at the speed of life’.

Let’s go back to pre-October 2012 and the launch of our first Branch of the Future in Sherwood. In the way that Uber disrupted the taxi market it is time for a disruption in the field of banking.

Customers were increasingly self-serving at times and locations more convenient to them, whether for flights, at supermarket check-outs, for movies, music, and other forms of entertainment. As both technology and customer confidence improved across on-line and mobile to manage day-to-day banking needs, when our customers do interact face-to-face, they expect staff to be faster, more capable and more informed. They wanted real advice, and a holistic view of their banking and financial needs.

We started by asking our customers what they wanted but as Henry Ford once said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.

So we spent time with our customers in our traditional branches and in their homes to find out what they were really doing, and to understand the jobs they are trying to get done and how they prefer to do them.

Our customers told us that they wanted to bank how and when it suited them, particularly for their everyday banking needs, and that they wanted advice, real help from real people for their most important problems.

And the branch of the future was born.

For those who haven’t visited one of our branches of the future, the new designs offer a more open and flexible layout, maximising front of house space with new digital technology including 24 x 7 self-service lobbies, iPads, digital marketing, video conferencing, WiFi, touch screens and teller cash recyclers.

The key to our success was to test and learn and iterate.

We figured out how to empower our customers in their everyday needs and also provide great advice. We retrofitted a real live branch and opened to the public. We watched how our customers and our people behaved in this new environment, and we asked them how we could improve their experience.

Our customers told us they don’t work 9-5pm and therefore don’t want to bank 9-5pm. The introduction of our 24/7 zones have allowed customers, particularly small business customers, to bank when they need.

We have amazing technology in SmartATMs - you can bank notes, coins, cheques, even business deposits. You can even withdraw rolled coin. We offer choices to suit various situations and customer preferences– from branches, to contact centres, to mobile & internet banking, click to chat, mobile proximity payments and we’ve started to roll out emergency cash.

Where to from here?

Digital banking is becoming the norm for lots of everyday banking needs - and mobile is growing much faster than online. In three years, we’ve seen the number of digital transactions rise by 40%, while branch transactions have declined by 13% and telephone transactions 27%. This trend will continue.

Did you know that it took 75 years for the phone to reach 50 million users, for TV, 13 years, and for the internet, only four, and Facebook shortened reaching 50 million users to 3-and-a-half-years.

For Angry Birds it took just 35 days to reach 50 million users!

Customers are even migrating away from cash, contactless payments growth is exponential. Merchant technologies are advancing all the time, and more and more people are paying bills via their phones. So….we need to continue to evolve our physical network to respond to the way our customers were changing and what they really want to do in the face to face environment, their changing behaviours, and their changing expectations.

As Westpac heads towards our third century in 2017 we will continue to look for ways to innovate and evolve, in line with what our customers need from us. We will continue to listen to our bankers and customers and update our layouts, technology and products. Who knows what the Bank of the Future will look like in 2017 but we are proud of our branches which we now refer to as Bank Now. So with 50 branches across Australia and 20 more in the near future including our first in Tasmania next Wednesday why don’t you come down and experience a branch of the future!