There are a few things that are certain in life. We need food, water and air. We don’t like going to the bank and the list goes on and on. Because we don’t like going to the bank, the banks are deciding that they will no longer have a physical place to house us as that’s too expensive for them.
It’s in that vein, that Standard Bank SA is closing all their phsyical branches and opting for their self-service banking channels:
We’re making some changes…
We know that the way you bank has changed and we’re changing with you. We’re aligning our retail and business banking services so that you can bank at any time, from anywhere. In the process of making these changes, we will be closing several branches, view branch closure list per region below.
However, our secure digitised self-service banking channels will always be available.
Standard Bank South Africa website
Whilst this move makes sense for the bank and the majority of their customers, it will no doubt make a number of people working within the bank plenty anxious.
It seems most financial services are moving to the self-service model and recently we saw EcoCash launch one-such portal, where customers can address most of their needs without having to interact with human-help at a physical branch.
If the results of this move are reflected positively on the bank’s bottom line you can expect many other banks to follow suit pretty quickly and even if it’s not lucrative, the general consensus is that the costs they cut by going down this path will be significant, which means many others will most probably be following suit.
What will happen locally?
Pretty much the same thing. We’ve already seen Standard Chartered closing branches on two occasions, back in 2014 and then last year. Steward Bank already has an agent banking model that emphasises agent presence across towns and cities more than in physical branches.
If a similar evolution takes place locally, one would hope that the silver lining from all this would be banks investing in security and if not security then at least lowering transaction charges that they are currently passing on to consumers…