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Cutting channel costs key to profitability

A recent report from Efma and Finalta has shown that improving cooperation between branch, internet and call centre channels is the top strategic priority for nearly half of Europe's retail banks in 2011.

The study shows that branch sales have decreased from 82% to 78% since 2007, whilst those made via the internet have nearly doubled, to almost 10%. This builds a strong case for reducing branch networks and concentrating on lower cost channels. This not only saves banks money, but also takes into account the ways in which consumers want to conduct their banking.

However, shifting customer interactions away from the branch office to phone and online banking has created new siloed payments channels that have become ingrained in banks – adding duplication and costs, which can potentially eat up the savings from branch rationalisation. So how can banks avoid this as they continue to reduce their branch numbers?

The answer lies in streamlining payment systems and consolidating everything into one central payments hub. Having multiple systems duplicating work and needing exponentially more maintenance simply doesn’t work. Consolidation is the essential first step to their systems becoming “agile”, which means having payments processes that are integrated and can handle payments from any channel, whether consumer or corporate, from start to finish – with no redundancy of technology, or duplication of processes and labour. These agile systems enable financial institutions to manage transactions quickly and effectively, with less need for manual intervention and costly interfaces between different systems. Only by investing in these payments systems will banks achieve the real cooperation between channels that they desire without facing unnecessary costs.