Ondato, a KYC and AML company that provides video-based ID verification systems to banks as part of its technology, today launches a virtual branch service solution that enables physical, digital and hybrid banks to provide customers with virtual face-to-face appointments. The new solution has the security tools necessary for safe and remote service delivery, including identity verification, e-signatures, and live video discussions, among many other methods.
At a time when branch network closures across Europe are limiting personal interactions, virtual branch remote consultations create new opportunities to assist customer needs. In addition to being able to conduct tasks from the convenience of any place, such as opening bank accounts or applying for loans, virtual branch services also make it possible to unblock banned cards by simply reconfirming the customer's identity. The service makes it easy to make sure that customers are who they say they are and paves the way to providing services remotely that would have required in-person attendance in the past.
A recent global survey of 4,700 banking customers by Temenos found that their number one priority for banks is to make it easier to speak to a human representative. And, despite the popularity of digital banking apps and the impact of Covid on customers’ willingness to visit physical branches, according to a survey by The Citizens Bank, 73% of US banking customers still prefer in-person interaction when receiving financial advice.
Ondato’s solution ensures even workload distribution across physical bank networks by allocating associates to quieter branches. Physical banks can now recruit and retain people in those quieter regions to provide additional customer services remotely, without having to relocate people to other cities or close branches.
The virtual bank branch can also be a cost-effective physical branch substitute for digital-only banks or as a hybrid approach with video booths in physical branches.
Liudas Kanapienis, CEO and co-founder of Ondato, says: “Shareholders are demanding that all banks — physical and digital — become more profitable. Both have invested heavily, either in networks, platforms or a combination, and must justify that spending with higher revenue per customer. Ondato’s virtual branch creates new opportunities to talk to customers and find out what they need. It reduces or even removes the cost of operating a branch network, increases the productivity of branch staff, and fits in well with the brand values of digital-native banks.”
Globally, physical branch networks have been in decline since well before Covid due to rising costs and increasing technology alternatives. A report for the UK parliament recorded a 50% reduction in UK branch numbers over the 28 years from 1986 to 2014. There has since been another 50% reduction in the remaining branches over just seven years, from 2015 to today, according to trusted UK consumer group Which? The trend is so established, says The Economist Intelligence Unit, that 65% of bankers believe the branch-based model will be “dead” within five years, up from 35% four years ago.
These powerful long-term trends create a business puzzle both for banks with physical branches, who need to optimise their investment in networks and for digital banks, who are struggling to cross-sell complex products effectively to customers without the means for face-to-face engagement.
Ondato’s virtual branch solution allows banks to combine remote services with human contact ensuring the high security and validity of the provided data. The service can be provided as stand-alone or integrated with Ondato’s KYC and AML solutions, including identity verification, business onboarding, a customer data platform (CDP), and due-diligence.