Many physical bank branches that have been seen everywhere have been abolished--

Why are there fewer ATMs at the door?

  As people's payment habits change, banks are actively seeking service transformation.

The picture shows the visitor (front right) at the 2020 China International Service Trade Fair communicating with the lobby manager of the simulation robot (first left) brought by China Construction Bank.

Xinhua News Agency reporter Ren Chao

  How often do you deal with cash and go to the bank to handle business on-site?

Is it increasingly difficult to find the ATMs, business halls and other physical bank outlets that used to be everywhere?

This is not an illusion, but the reality that is happening.

In recent years, the number of commercial bank outlets has rapidly decreased, and ATM machines have decreased simultaneously.

  Will the reduction of physical outlets cause inconvenience to customers and unemployment of bank employees?

Will the digitization of banking services replace cash by mobile payment methods?

How should commercial banks realize business transformation and make physical outlets better function?

Listen to what practitioners and customers say.

Quantity is reduced, cost is subtracted

  "I attended a friend's wedding during the National Day holiday and planned to go to the bank to get some cash and seal a red envelope. I didn't expect that an ATM machine that I used to go to was closed." Beijing white-collar Peng Ning said that his salary card is bound to mobile payment software , I almost use no cash for monthly expenses, and I haven’t dealt with bank tellers and ATMs for a long time.

  It is not uncommon for Penning to encounter situations.

Many residents inadvertently discovered that the bank branches and ATM machines in front of their homes were missing.

  The number of physical bank branches is being subtracted.

According to data disclosed by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, in the first half of this year, a total of 1,318 commercial bank branches across the country closed down. Excluding 276 branches belonging to the original Baoshang bank that were taken over according to law, there are 1042 remaining, and 27 in Beijing alone. .

Among the closed physical outlets, 318 are community branches, and there are also many outlets operated by large state-owned commercial banks: 125 Agricultural Bank of China, 88 Bank of China, 76 China Construction Bank, and 48 Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

  After reviewing the annual reports of major domestic commercial banks, the reporter found that major banks have generally reduced the number of physical outlets in recent years.

Taking ICBC as an example, from the end of 2018 to the end of 2019, its business outlets have been reduced from 16,004 to 15,784, the number of self-service banks has been reduced from 26,786 to 25,895, and the number of ATM machines has been reduced from 89,646 to 82,191, and the ATM transaction volume has increased even more. From 10.5 trillion yuan to 8.3 trillion yuan.

  It is becoming more and more common to do subtraction in the operation of existing outlets.

According to the annual report of the Agricultural Bank of China, in recent years, the Agricultural Bank of China has been promoting the transformation of branches and reducing the operating costs of physical branches. To this end, it has implemented the "three reductions, two increases and one reform", which means reducing the area of ​​branches, reducing tellers, reducing costs, increasing marketing capabilities, and increasing Risk control capability and reform of operating system procedures.

  The decline in customer demand for over-the-counter business processing is the direct cause of the abolition of outlets and the need for commercial banks to control costs.

  According to data released by the China Banking Association, in recent years, China’s banking closing rate (that is, the ratio of the amount of business customers leaving the counter to the total business volume of the bank) has continued to increase, and it has increased to 89.77% in 2019. Many large businesses The bank close rate exceeded 90%.

  “The period of large-scale and rapid growth of physical outlets is over.” Jin Jing, a relevant business officer of the Beijing Branch of Bank of Communications, believes that offline physical outlets are still the most important channel for commercial banks to serve customers and build brand marketing capabilities, but the cost of physical outlets is relatively high. Large, its expansion is strictly controlled by regulatory agencies on the one hand, and on the other hand by the decline in bank profit margins and strict control of investment costs.

Function optimization, service addition

  Does the reduction in number mean that offline physical outlets can be eliminated?

In fact, the development of online business and the intelligence of offline outlets are also proceeding simultaneously.

  "Remember that when I was young, my parents had to go to bank branches to pay water and electricity bills. Nowadays, the relevant living payment, using electronic banking, can be done with one click without leaving the house." Zhu Chen, a resident of Haidian District, Beijing, said that the number of physical outlets has decreased. Related businesses dealing with banks have not disappeared, but have been transferred to electronic banking, which is more convenient than before.

  Bank of China has moved various life payment functions online, creating an intelligent community service system "BOC e-community", where customers can pay water, electricity, gas, property fees, etc. through the mobile client.

The Bank of Communications has connected more than 1,500 public utility payment services including water, electricity, gas and other services to mobile banking online to build a "never-drop" service network.

  "Even in the middle of the night, you can buy electricity. In summer, you can turn on the air conditioner all night to sleep, so you don't have to worry about the power outage in the middle of the night and the deterioration of the food in the refrigerator!" Zhu Chen said.

  According to the data disclosed by ICBC, while the ATM transaction volume has decreased, ICBC's online financial transaction volume has reached 633.05 trillion yuan, and the proportion of its online financial business has increased to 98.1%.

At the same time, existing bank outlets are also being upgraded to "all-rounders."

As of the end of 2019, among the 15784 existing ICBC outlets, 15,684 have completed the intelligent transformation, covering 287 businesses in the personal and corporate fields with intelligent services.

  "The online smart branch built by ICBC Beijing Branch integrates the most cutting-edge VR technology and financial technology, and can provide customers with VR panoramic guides, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, online intelligent voice assistant online answer service And various financial services online." A staff member of the Beijing branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China introduced.

  "Offline branches have been abolished, and mobile phones are not used, what about banking business in the future? This is a problem that many elderly people worry about." Aunt Yao, a resident of Xicheng District, Beijing, has dispelled her doubts after experiencing the online smart network. .

“You don’t need to download a special app, you can use it from the WeChat applet of'ICBC Services'. You can use the smart voice assistant to make appointments, make life payment, purchase wealth management and other services, or talk directly with the account manager. If you want to withdraw cash, you can check The nearest ATM or branch is very friendly to the elderly!" said Aunt Yao.

  In Hainan, many branches of China Construction Bank have set up "Government Convenience Service Stations", which can handle 153 business matters, such as printing temporary ID cards, handling traffic violations, social security information inquiry, housing provident fund repayment, etc., covering public security, social security, provident fund For multiple categories, users only need to bring their ID card, and they can "swipe their face" at the bank branch.

  Wu Wen, a senior researcher at the Financial Research Center of the Bank of Communications, pointed out that with the in-depth application of financial technology, the pace of integrated transformation of outlets will accelerate. In addition to the reduction in the number of outlets, it will also become a trend for outlets to further organically integrate traditional banking services with financial technology.

Online and offline, "melt" and develop

  With fewer outlets, will bank labor also decrease?

  The annual reports of the relevant banks show that in 2019, the number of employees in the four banks of Industry, Agriculture, Transportation, and China decreased to varying degrees, with a total of 16,319 employees reduced.

"In the past, in the eyes of many people, bank employees were very popular jobs, but in recent years they have also faced pressure." Ni Wei, a teller at a branch of a commercial bank in Beijing, said frankly, "Under the background of staff reduction, branch abolition, and business upgrades. , The banking industry is facing many new changes. As a front-line employee, there is indeed a sense of crisis."

  However, many experts pointed out that it is not possible to simply equate the abolition of outlets with the abolition of personnel. Under the general trend of online and offline integration of banking business, channel construction is the top priority of commercial banks.

There are fewer front-line tellers, but the bank still needs a large number of customer manager teams to provide customers with personalized and refined services.

Especially online, a large number of employees are required to continue to play the role of sticking customers and activating customers. This is a job that artificial intelligence cannot replace.

  In practice, Bank of Communications’ mobile banking has transformed the large-scale workforce of grassroots branches into a strong online service force through online and offline integration, and created a personal homepage service model for customer managers. As of the end of 2019, the bank has 88,000 employees The QR code was generated to create a card-free service scenario for customers. Mobile banking monthly active customers (MAU) increased by 36.4% that year, and the number and amount of transactions also increased significantly.

China Construction Bank launched the "cloud studio" service for account managers in Qingdao, creating an integrated online and offline service model, answering questions online for customers around the clock, and using the platform to broadcast the epidemic and related science knowledge, and do a good job for customers during the epidemic prevention period service.

  In the future, will the physical branches and ATMs of commercial banks continue to decrease?

The industry generally believes that this trend is expected to continue for some time.

  However, in many business areas, offline physical outlets still play an irreplaceable role. For example, deposits and withdrawals, foreign exchange settlement and sales, etc., cannot disappear completely, but move towards online and offline integration.

"You cannot deposit and withdraw cash without physical outlets. You always have to prepare some foreign currency cash when you travel abroad, and you have to do it offline." Penning said.

  Taking foreign exchange business as an example, Bank of China has launched an O2O physical delivery model for foreign exchange sales. Customers make online appointments and receive foreign currency packages directly offline.

In some regions and fields, there are also many new physical outlets.

According to data from the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, more than 1,000 new outlets have been put into operation in the past year, and there are not a few community branches that serve communities and small and micro businesses that serve small and micro enterprises. This also shows the transformational thinking of commercial banks in the classification and construction of new outlets.

  Industry insiders pointed out that the bank's offline business outlets have entered a new development stage of layout optimization, transformation and upgrading from the stage of rapid expansion. In the future, they will develop toward intelligence under the thinking of refined management, transformation and adjustment, and classified construction.

"To carry out the integrated online and offline transformation of channels, we first need to transform the offline channel infrastructure and improve the service capabilities. Intelligent construction from hardware and new service model transformation from software will form a synergy to complete the line The overall transformation and upgrading of downstream channels." Jin Jing said.

  Wang Wenzheng