With approximately 25 per cent of its branches in digital model as of May 31, Scotiabank senior vice-president for Retail Banking, Perrin Gayle is optimistic about the industry-wide movement towards increased digital operations.
Gayle, who has worn many 'hats' in the financial industry across multiple jurisdictions, including the Caribbean and North America, says the digital move will reap rewards for customers while driving the overall efficiency of financial institutions.
These changes also align with the long-term vision of Scotiabank to transition from a transactional focus in branches to one which allows for deepening the relationship with our customers and focusing on their financial well-being.
Branch Transactions Declining
“We [Scotia] want to move even further away from customers standing in long lines and crowded banking halls — a trend that is already happening organically with a significant decline in branch transactions over the past few years as customers continue to gravitate towards our self-service channels,” Gayle said.
In 2016, in-branch transactions for Scotiabank Jamaica represented 23 per cent of its total transaction mix and this has declined significantly to less than five per cent. This number is also expected to further decrease as the bank continues to advance its digital transformation strategy.
Banking needs becoming more sophisticated
Beyond traditional banking, Gayle also noted a deepened interest and appetite for sophisticated financial products and solutions by customers beyond the traditional savings accounts.
“More customers are now enquiring about investments and other wealth — building solutions. As a full-service financial partner, we are equipped to meet all the needs of our customers. We are aiming to broaden our ability to serve customers who previously may have been intimidated by certain financial discussions and those whose knowledge about the benefits of strong financial planning has deepened.”
Last December, Scotia unveiled its newly renovated flagship headquarters which Gayle says has brought the “future of banking to downtown Kingston”. This tailor-made financial centre features full-service banking, a large ABM zone, digital banking area, insurance and investments services as well as a premium banking centre for customers with more complex banking needs.
Gayle said the new branch model is a catalyst for the overhaul of its operations across the island as the bank moves to satisfy changing customer needs.
“Technology has greatly enabled us to make the changes that are needed, so we continue to invest heavily in both physical and virtual banking services that will allow us to satisfy both the transactional and aspirational aspects of a banking relationship.”
Benefits of Digital
The Scotiabank “digital model” sees routine transactions such as deposits, local and foreign exchange withdrawals and payments being directed to a smart ABM versus the previous method of over the counter service.
Gayle, however, is not naive about the fact that there are still customers, especially the elderly, who remain apprehensive about the digital move.
“What we have implemented is a system that aims to address the needs of all our customers. For those who are proficient, we have enabled them and for those people who are still hesitant or require assistance, we have a team in place ready to help them become more comfortable,” the Scotiabank executive said.
“We believe it is our responsibility to help customers to bridge the technology gap especially as digital becomes more pervasive in other areas of business and life in the society. We also believe that we are preparing our customs to assimilate more seamlessly going forward within the new digital norms not just in the financial sector, but in many other types of businesses that our customers may interact with,” Gayle said.
Over the past year, the bank has implemented a number of initiatives including direct engagements and weekend openings specifically geared at helping customers get comfortable with utilising self-service channels.
Built for the Future
While branch traffic is projected to continue to decrease, Gayle says Scotia is also making provisions in terms of physical and virtual infrastructure to suit the needs of the future.
“Currently, all Scotiabank branches offer public Wi-Fi for customers and we have also been expanding the numbers of devices available for public use in these locations for customers who need that support to conduct their banking transactions.”
In March, the bank also announced the launch of an online account opening functionality for existing customers and over time additional digital conveniences are expected to come on stream.
In closing, Gayle reiterated the bank's keen focus on “reimagining the future of banking”.
“Developments in digital will remain at the forefront of our customer strategy and the bank continues to add value during what is a dynamic period for financial institutions locally and abroad as we adapt to the rapid technological changes around us,” Gayle said.