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Consumers still use bank branches

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Friday, August 22, 2014
Posted: 2 pm ET

Worried that technology is going to replace your local bank branch? Fear not. A new survey from the American Bankers Association reveals that physical branches remain the second most popular method for banking customers to manage their accounts. In fact, this year's survey shows that more people prefer going to bank branches than they did in 2013 -- 21 percent to 18 percent.

© Najlah Feanny/Corbis

There have been plenty of advances in online and mobile banking technology in recent years. Account holders can deposit checks, transfer money to friends, pay bills and conduct a wide range of banking business via their tablets, laptops and smartphones. Despite this tech revolution, 21 percent of Americans still would rather leave home to deal with their banking needs.

"It's clear that bank branches are still popular with many bank customers," said Nessa Feddis, ABA's senior vice president and deputy chief counsel for Consumer Protection and Payments. "When people are conducting a complex transaction like opening an account or applying for a home or business loan, they often prefer to do it in person."

However, this popularity isn't just powered by complex transactions. Many banks have been rethinking their approaches to designing bank branches.

"We're seeing a branch renaissance in some areas, with many banks transforming their branches to become more efficient and customer-friendly," Feddis said.

Before this renaissance began, most bank branches looked the same: a large lobby, a waiting line to speak with tellers and some cubicles for private conversations with banking representatives.

Now, branches are beginning to look very different. Wells Fargo has been experimenting with a neighborhood bank format with branches that are approximately one-third the size of a traditional location. Earlier this year, PNC opened up a 20-foot-by-8-foot pop-up branch in Chicago. Chase is looking for a smaller physical future, too, with plans to reduce the size of new branches from 4,400 square feet to 2,500 to 3,500 square feet.

Do you want to see a preview of how technology will continue to reshape your in-person banking experience? Check out "4 ways tech will change your bank branch."

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