Standard Chartered

StanChart digital branches to expand in bid to boost sales

Bank's first internet-equipped outlet in city sees sales revenue rise, with shorter queuing times

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 5:56am

Standard Chartered plans to roll out more "digital branches" in Hong Kong to boost sales revenue and shorten the time customers queue for services.

The digital branches will be equipped with tablet computers which will enable customers to access the internet and online banking accounts when waiting for the services, said Mary Huen Wai-yi, country head of consumer banking in Hong Kong.

"More and more people go to the branches for face-to-face service, such as seeking investment advice and discussing wealth planning with the relationship managers," said Huen. The upscaled branches are designed to enable digitally-savvy customers to use digital banking solutions in the branch while they wait to see their relationship manager and to provide all information and offers digitally to this segment of customers who are more self-directed, she said.

Standard Chartered has 80 branches in the city and says it aims to upgrade about 24 into digital outlets in the next three to five years. Many other banks, such as HSBC, Citibank and DBS, are taking the same route and are equipping their branches with digital tools.

One of the chief customer benefits of going digital, said Huen, was shorter queuing times. For example, customers can open accounts online and visit the branch to sign the documents, rather than queuing to open an account.

High customer traffic and acceptance of the new service would determine which outlets would be upgraded, and Central, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui branches would likely be the next to go digital, Huen said.

The bank opened its first digital branch in the city in Central in February. The branch has booths wired for the use of tablet computers to view the products and services of the bank, instead of paper leaflets. Since the branch was reopened with the digital tools, the number of customers opening new accounts at the branch in its first three months had doubled, Huen said.

Sales revenue at the branch was up 25 per cent and she expected the growth rate to rise to 50 per cent in the longer term.

More resources can be deployed to revenue-generating people and procedures when simple banking services are replaced by technology, and that translates into higher cost efficiency, Huen said. In the digital branch, as much as 60 per cent of staff are sales-related, compared with 40-50 per cent sales-related staff in a traditional branch.

The bank will continue to grow its relationship manager staff at a rate of 10 per cent and investment specialists at a rate of 20 per cent a year, Huen said. About 30-40 per cent of the bank's transactions and sales are completed through the internet and with more digital branches she aims for a rate of 40-50 per cent in the next three to five years.