The Coronavirus has accelerated the need for mobile and self-service banking, with traditional branches seeing a fall in customer traffic, meaning their customer acquisition has also significantly declined.
Though it may be tempting to conclude that this will lead to bank branches becoming obsolete, that is not the case. Instead, the development of new technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G – will empower bank outlets by allowing them to become intelligent, being assigned new functions and different objectives.
Despite the rapid development of mobile services, branches remain integral in high-value fields, from opening accounts to wealth management and private banking. In these scenarios, customers typically prefer face-to-face communication. Furthermore, branches remain particularly important for brand promotion, as well as delivering an optimal service experience.
Next generation smart bank branches will involve multiple intelligent, self-service, and remote video devices to provide promotion and training services — improving the customer experience, while reducing labor costs for banks. They will also be lightweight; with the limited physical space they take up being used effectively.
A final, but important, key feature of smart branches will be mobility. 5G wireless connections will be used to provide stable and massive data services, achieving widespread banking services coverage.
AI + 5G + cloud = a brand new offline experience
Most bank branches in China have been intelligently reconstructed, with service personnel able to identify and categorise customers, so more are now directed to smart equipment to handle services, meaning fewer are led to the counter.
Meanwhile, service personnel are available to offer guidance to customers at any time they need. As well as shortening customer waiting times, online e-bank services also deliver a brand-new experience.
Huawei believes that the application of new technologies such as AI, 5G and cloud can enrich a bank’s existing network design, provide a full-journey network experience for customers, and optimise network management modes.
When a customer walks into an intelligent bank branch, service personnel are able to immediately identify the individual customer using a smart device, as an interactive large screen displays the financial products that the customer has browsed on their app. For offline financial management assessment or account checking services, an immersive experience can be offered through augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) glasses.
Customers don’t need to go to a specific branch to handle complex business services; service personnel can contact experts at headquarters, who are ready to answer customer questions in real-time. Elsewhere, the temperature, humidity, and even the lighting of the building can be automatically adjusted in accordance with crowd density and weather conditions.
When customers go to other cities and visit bank branches, their data will be synchronised nationwide. Different branches can continuously optimise the customer route design based on historical service analysis, delivering unique services to each customer.
Huawei’s smart bank branch solution
Huawei uses AI, big data and cloud platforms to build a unified online and offline precision marketing platform. With full-stack AI capabilities, it can provide intelligent customer services online and cooperate with partners to provide AI robots that guide customers in branches, greatly improving the customer experience. And while intelligent cameras accurately identify VIP bank customers on arrival, big data analytics of the precision marketing platform hosted on HUAWEI CLOUD implements personalised service recommendations and precision marketing.
In addition, Huawei’s television product, Huawei Vision, is used to implement precision marketing and ad pushes, efficiently identifying customer requirements. In terms of service handling at branches, AI automatic identification technologies such as Optical Character Recognition speed up service handling and build a comprehensive smart marketing scenario.
In a smart branch of a Chinese multi-national bank in Beijing, Huawei’s Atlas AI small cells provide functions such as VIP customer identification and movement track analysis, boosting the marketing capability of the branch.
With the development of smart branches and the application of multimedia devices, mobile devices, and high definition video, high bandwidth capacity becomes essential. Huawei uses 5G technology to provide large-bandwidth network coverage and uses SD-WAN intelligent traffic steering technology to enable intelligent selection of private lines, ensuring maximal bandwidth for the key services of bank branches.
Compared with traditional Wi-Fi networks, a Wi-Fi 6 network developed based on Huawei’s 5G technology significantly improves network bandwidth, coverage and stability — meeting the wireless requirements of multimedia devices such as tablets as well as HD videos.
Huawei’s 5G and SD-WAN products have been successfully applied to the construction of 5G intelligent network points of one of the world’s three largest lenders, providing customers with a vastly improved network experience.
Compared with traditional branches, there is a huge amount of both data and IT devices in a smart branch, putting immense pressure on IT operations and management. Huawei’s FusionCube solution integrates a branch’s IT devices – such as servers, storage devices, and switches – providing functions such as plug-and-play, remote attendance, and edge-cloud synergy, meeting integrated IT device management requirements.
Meanwhile, the Intelligent Operation Center platform, jointly developed by Huawei and its partners, implements unified management of operations for all branch devices at the bank’s headquarters. The Internet of Things (IoT) asset management system that is deployed, provides full lifecycle management, from asset distribution and monitoring, to asset stocktaking and recycling.
Huawei is working with a multi-national Chinese bank in Hong Kong test its IoT asset management system, with the intention of helping the bank build smart branches.
Security protection is critical, so smart security protection is indispensable for branch construction. With advanced AI chips and open camera operating systems, Huawei provides a full series of video cloud analysis platforms, to implement surveillance functions such as abnormal behaviour analysis, mask identification and detection of loitering, trailing, theft, accidents and fires.
Huawei’s solutions also offer internal control detection, such as heat maps inside a branch, monitoring when employees leave the building, and attendance and access control.
The future bank branch: a one-stop financial service centre
To gain a solid foothold in the market, amid intense competition, commercial banks must seize the moment and tackle branch challenges head-on.
In the future, competition among commercial banks will no longer be limited to business forms, customer groups and products. Instead, it will focus on higher-level fields such as FinTech, 5G, AI, data management and account security.
With increasingly homogeneous competition, traditional banks must apply technologies such as AI and 5G to overcome technical obstacles. Only through radical ‘smartification’ of financial services, can banks continue to grow and embrace the future.
Huawei has long been committed to working with partners to build more user-friendly and automated branches for banks, providing high-tech experiences for customers. Branches no longer merely provide traditional financial services. New application scenarios and devices – from AR shopping, simulated car finance, and intelligent customer service robots, to remote interactive entertainment, space capsule-style mobile financial services and coffee banks – are emerging.
Huawei’s AI + 5G + cloud platform will provide strong technical support to make highly automated and intelligent bank branches a reality.