Digital Transformation

Nationwide extends remote mortgage video service Now as it predicts role of branch lies in ‘complex advice’

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By Natalie Mortimer | N/A

February 20, 2015 | 4 min read

Nationwide is extending its in-branch high definition video link service to 400 of its store as it predicts the future of the bank branch lies in offering consumers “complex advice”.

The service, which is currently in 61 branches across the UK, offers customers the ability to speak with financial consultants based elsewhere in the country. Originally trialled to offer mortgage advice, it will now allow consumers to speak with financial planning managers and personal banking managers.

Speaking to The Drum at the launch of IBM’s London Design Studio, head of group innovation at Nationwide Daryl Wilkinson said the future of the bank branch rests on offering up “complex advice” shaped by consumer needs.

“If consumers want to use branches we will continue to offer branches,” he said. “I believe the role of the branch will be about complex advice; it will be about giving the assurance that there is a presence. But I think it can be more about that as well, we need to think about it differently. There are virtual communities established and there are physical communities established, [so] why don’t we mesh those together?”

Last November Nationwide updated its mobile banking app to allow Android smartwatch wearers to access their account balance in real-time. Wilkinson said the “unexpected” release was designed to showcase that Nationwide is opening up its offering and also to change perceptions of the 170 year-old company.

“The smartwatch app was about demonstrating as a member-owned business we’re not trying to shove people down one alley, whether that’s branch, telephone banking, or online but we’re going to give choice and that’s part of the responsibility that we have.

“The other reason that we did it was that it was signalling both to people in the company and outside that Nationwide, with 170 years of heritage, and known for being very trust worthy and dependable, but not very exciting or modern, was changing. Like other things we’ve done it was very much a physical manifestation of that.”

The extended Nationwide Now offering is expected to be completed by November 2015.

The future of the bank branch and its role to play on the highstreet has been a recent topic of debate within the financial sector, as payment services such as Pingit, Paym and Square come to the fore.

Atom, a mobile-based bank which will not open any physical retail branches, nor offer telephone banking, isdue to launch later in the year. It will however, offer a full range of products including current accounts and mortgages.

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