Ouida Taaffe, Editor for Financial World, the journal for The London Institute of Banking & Finance, speaks with Paolo Taricco, of Banca d’Alba and Mark Aldred, of Auriga, about their interest in the development of technology in ATMs.
- Does being a co-operative bank allow Banca d’Alba to make investments that a purely profit-driven organisation might not?
Paolo Taricco (PT): As a cooperative bank, we are not required to pay dividends and can therefore reinvest a great portion of our profits into the development of services. For example, unlike a typical bank we offer health services free of charge to our 50,000 members. Nonetheless we are the biggest regional bank in Italy with 72 branches serving the Piedmont and Liguria region.
A fundamental principle of our cooperative organisation is that we develop the closest possible relationships with our customers who are also our members.
We target our investment into new technologies to further personalise our service. These technologies provide staff with the best possible tools to assist our customers, by facilitating more self-service banking options both in-branch or on customers’ own devices.
We want to create an effective combination of virtual and personal interactions with our customers. This is integral to how we have designed our new branches, where we utilise a “personal” concept. This is achieved by uniting the teller machine with a representative who is equipped with all the new technologies supplied by our technology partner Auriga.
- Are the branches the bank is opening full-service? Can you give any details of how many staff they employ/how much they cost to run/what sort of revenues they generate?
PT: The new branches are full service in both urban and rural locations. They are designed to be easily accessible, with ATM and assisted service machines in close proximity to other banking services. There are also secure 24-hour self-service banking areas. In our opinion, full service branches are profitable when you combine self-service banking solutions with the added value of consulting services from greeters and tellers. This allows us to increase sales and maintain close relationships with customers.
- What are the demographics of the customer base of Banca d’Alba? How many of the customers are over 50? How many are small business owners?
PT: We serve some very rural and very urban communities and the demographics of our customers is very broad. Typically in the smaller rural communities, our customers are older with an average age of 48, and they have been with the bank for many years. In cities it tends to be a younger customer base.
As a regional bank we’re committed to supporting the local economy, facilitating the development of small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the area.
- Would it be possible for Banca d’Alba customers to go about their daily lives without cash ie could they pay in local shops with, for example, ApplePay?
PT: Banca d’Alba’s customers, like much of Europe, continue to use cash heavily – there were over 6,000 cash transactions through our advanced and smart ATMs in the last 6 months from their branches. This is in addition to cash deposits completed at the teller line.
- Mark Aldred, of Auriga, mentioned that brands are of paramount importance in a digital environment. In what ways does Auriga support Banca d’Alba’s brand?
Mark Aldred (MA): Their brand is about having strong local roots and relationships with their customers. We help them combine tradition with innovation to cultivate closer links with customers. Auriga is supporting the bank’s omnichannel strategy and how it a
ims to meet customers’ needs for access to high quality services on any channel, anytime and anywhere. To achieve this, the bank is using our WWS omnichannel banking platform to customize web, mobile, self-service and traditional branch banking services. We are also helping the bank support its fleet of assisted service terminals and how it intends to extend the in-branch assisted self-service approach to existing branches.
- Auriga said that there is “an overwhelming drive to high functionality devices”. Is there one primary reason for this? Eg need to cut branch costs?
MA: There are many reasons but the primary ones are to do with how does the bank offer a competitive, high quality service experience. Self-service banking is very popular with customers who want to look after their own affairs and higher functionality devices for cash deposits and recycling can mean faster banking in branch. Working with us, Banca d’Alba has deployed its fleet of ASSTs/ASDs in twelve of its most busy, most congested branches. How these machines are becoming part of an omnichannel experience will be a cornerstone of how bank branches are going to evolve, survive and thrive in our communities.
- The self-service banking machines are not designed to be “cash and dash”. How long do customers typically spend when using a self-service banking ATM? How does Banca d’Alba manage any queues?
PT: It’s only a few minutes because the machines make it a relatively fast and smooth process. We’ve also trained our staff to assist people using the new machines. The queues are really minimal because we’ve kept the option of choosing the normal teller line and self-service. As time goes by, we’re seeing a wider range of customers become more accustomed to the new self service options and getting more faster and more autonomous in their use of the machines.
- Can Auriga, or the bank, update the functionality of the machines remotely?
MA: Using WWS, the bank can remotely manage and customise any of its ATMs and assisted service terminals and other devices.
- Can Auriga give any details of the additional functions that it is thinking of introducing over time?
PT: We’re exploring some new capabilities with Auriga including the introduction of new payments services at the ATM as well as how mobiles can be integrated with smart ATMS and assisted service devices
MA: The choice is very much down to the banks and what they think their customers want. We already enable smartphones to interface with ATMs for cash and banking services. Auriga Plainpay is a mobile application is available on Apple IOS and Google Android that uses a smartphone to pay, transfer money, secure access to web banking, withdraw cash at an ATM without using a card. The applications works through a simple scanning of a QR Code.
ATMs are 50 years old this year and actually have never stopped evolving. Surveys still show customers like using ATMs, and these and other self-service devices are going to be integral to banking for many years to come.