Ondato,​​ which provides video-based ID verification systems to banks, has introduced a virtual branch service solution that enables physical, digital and hybrid banks to provide customers with virtual face to face appointments amid concerns bank networks will be extinct within five years.

The virtual branch solution lets banks combine remote services with human contact. 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 and due-diligence.

According to Ondatao, 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 also 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. Ondato’s solution ensures even workload distribution across physical bank networks by allocating associates to quieter 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.” 

Human interaction

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. A separate study from The Citizens Bank also identified that 73 per cent of US banking customers still prefer in-person interaction when receiving financial advice. 

Yet a report for the UK parliament recorded a 50 per cent reduction in UK branch numbers over the 28 years from 1986 to 2014. There has since been another 50 per cent reduction in the remaining branches over just seven years, from 2015 to today, according to consumer group Which?.

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, 65 per cent of bankers believe the branch-based model will be ‘dead’ within five years, up from 35 per cent four years ago.

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