About IB

Smart Innovation, Convenient and Considerate

-- IB’s Path of Innovation in Smart Outlets

Time: July 16, 2015   Source: China Finance

In recent years, the development of information and communication technologies and internet at a rocketing speed influences the behaviors and expectations of customers in an unconscious way. As the development space for conventional retail banking service is being compressed in the areas including payment, wealth management and personal credit, the inherent service capacities of banks are facing constant challenges and there is an increasing tendency towards financial disintermediation. Moreover, the fast evolution of market-oriented interest rates and the emerging business models like internet bank compel conventional retail banking to accelerate transformation in service models and profit model.

In confrontation with such challenges, Industrial Bank (IB), commended by outsiders as a highly market-oriented bank with outstanding innovation capability, has penetrated the first chance, taken initiative to embrace internet, and made active arrangement for smart technologies in its business outlets. Taking “customer-centered” service as a starting point, the bank has adjusted the forms and functional positions of outlets and introduced innovative technologies to speed up the smart upgrading of outlets, to improve business flow and to enhance customer experience, opening a path of innovation in smart outlets offering convenient and considerate service.

Improving outlet arrangement and practicing inclusive finance

IB believes , although it is estimated that the value growth of conventional outlets will show a marginal decline curve under the push of internet technologies, they are still the main positions for services marketing of commercial banks and important fortresses that banks can rely on to carry out differentiated competition with internet-based financial enterprises. Now, conventional outlets are generally confronted with three headaches, namely high operation cost, low labor efficiency and undesired average outlet output. How to accomplish transformation by fostering strengths and circumventing weaknesses is a big topic for conventional commercial banks to face in order to gain a firm foothold in the age of internet.

Based on the understanding to the importance of outlets, IB has as a whole reached a consensus that it should “place itself in the shoes of customers to offer convenient services to them, tailored services to meet their individualized needs, and people-oriented services by managing business outlets with dedicated efforts”, and committed itself to building them into an important platform for practicing inclusive finance. Under the guidance of this strategy, IB has creatively put forward a brand-new path to explore convenient financial services by improving the outlet layout via “community banking outlet”. Within only two years, the bank has opened nearly 1,000 community banking outlets in main cities across China, bridging the “last 1 kilometer” for financial service. Thus, the image of a bank offering convenient services and bringing benefits to people has been well-established among customers. With its innovation and initiatives in the area of community banking, IB was honored the prize of “China Best Retail Bank for Innovation in Banking Outlets 2015” by The Asian Banker, an authoritative media.

While keeping exploring and improving the services of community banking outlets, IB has actively pushed forward the “smart, small-sized, community-based and standardized” project for conventional business outlets, establishing a brand-new pattern for the building, management and service of business outlets gradually.

New self-service machines, convenient, considerate and efficient

At a common banking outlet, a customer should first take a number and wait in a queue after entering the hall. But now, after the customer stepping into an outlet of IB, the hall manager will amicably ask him or her “Which service do you need?" before taking the number. For those with specific service needs, which do not involve cash, the hall manager will guide them to handle such service with the new machine called “Financial Self-service Pass”. 

The “Financial Self-service Pass” of IB offers a broad variety of functions, and customers can use it to apply for opening a debit card account, activate internet banking, mobile banking, and third-party depository account, purchase wealth management products, and pay fees, as well as handle a number of other services such as opening fixed deposit account, transfer and repayment.

Such “Financial Self-service Pass” machines also give up the hard keys used in previous self-service machines, but employ the touch screen operation, a common practice in mobile equipment at present, so it is easier to use. Take the application for opening a bank card account as an example. It takes only about 3 minutes to go through all procedures, and the production cost is free of charge. With the “Financial Self-service Pass” machines, customers can operate by themselves to handle most services and only a fraction of services require the approval of the responsible officer of the bank. Nevertheless, they can finish the operation upon examination and approval of the hall manager around. The flow-based, intelligent and automatic design enables customers to operate the machines in a smooth, easy and fast way. It is estimated that a service that takes 10 minutes to handle over the conventional counter can be finished within less than 4 minutes with a “Financial Self-service Pass” machine. Besides the common cabinet machines at outlets, the portable machine of “Financial Self-service Pass”, which supports mobile service, can be used to provide door-to-door service for group customers.

Apart from the “Financial Self-service Pass”, the “Video Teller Machine” (VTM) of IB is also put into operation, bringing a fresh service experience to customers in the model of face-to-face service offered by remote counter tellers.

Figure 1 Leaders of the Central Government visited an outlet of Industrial Bank

For corporate customers, the self-service receipt machine of IB can help them do away with the previous burdensome situation that the bank printed the receipts and statements in batches and then distributed them in boxes, and customers opened the boxes to take receipts and statements. Supporting customers to print receipts and statements in real time as required, it not only reduces the processing cost of the bank, but also provides great convenience for customers to take receipts and statements and saves time for them in assorting and arranging. Meanwhile, it can also help to avoid unnecessary troubles or risks of losing receipts due to delivery. While offering convenience to customers, the self-service receipt machine can also reduce paper consumption, low-carbon and environment-friendly.

Now, IB is piloting the self-service receipt machine, which supports corporate customers to handle transfer and remittance with settlement vouchers including cheque by themselves, and this will effectively save the queuing time of customers. 

In the aspect of internal management of outlets, IB explores the use of many new technologies including radio frequency identification (RFID) to improve the working efficiency of management of business archives and reduce the operation workload of employees.


Care for special groups and unremitting service for livelihood of people

While improving the level of smart service of its outlets, IB also attaches great importance to guaranteeing the livelihood of people, and gives humanistic care to disadvantaged groups. In December 2014, IB took the lead to launch the first group of ATMs for the blind in China, which have the functions of voice navigation service and touchable braille. Touchable braille reminders are set at many places of the ATM such as card slot, cash outlet, slip outlet and password keyboard, so people with visual disabilities can, in accordance with prompts, withdraw money and inquire about account information on the machine on their own.

“IB took the lead to develop and launch the first AMT for the blind in China, which is the first step taken by the Chinese banking industry in the progress of electronic channel accessibility.” Yang Zaiping, Vice President (full time) of China Banking Association (CBA) commented on the machine, “It is also a great stride taken by the Chinese banking industry to share the fruits of economic and financial development with the disabled and push the social civilization and progress, and an action to develop inclusive finance with great efforts.” 

Now, IB has put into service ATMs for the blind in a number of cities such as Beijing, Fuzhou, Chongqing and Shijiazhuang and it plans to promote such machines gradually. As it is increasing the number of ATMs for the blind, the bank tries to equip the machines in branches established in prefecture-level cities, thus bringing more care and convenience to the group with visual impairment.

Figure 2 ATM of Industrial Bank for the blind

Improving the handling process to make it easier for customers to enjoy services

IB is now improving the labor organization model in its banking outlets with bold movements. While introducing smart equipment and pushing forward the application of electronic banking, the bank, with the low-counter service model in large scale, changes the long-existing habit of customers to “handle business over counter”, breaks through the restrictions of heavy glass mounted at conventional counters, settles the needs of customers accurately by way of face-to-face communication, and improve the experience of communication with customers.

For some businesses which are required to be handled over high counters, IB will directly accept them by way of oral description without filling in relevant forms, and make verification and confirmation with customers on small screens mounted outside counters. In this way, it not only saves time for customers and reduces the cost of paper consumed for document purpose, but also improves the accuracy in handling businesses. Additionally, customers can have close interaction with officers of the bank both online and offline via the booking service offered at electronic channels. For instance, before arriving an outlet, one can make booking with the outlet via internet banking or WeChat banking and finish the business application in advance, thus saving time and energy.

Piloting outlets of the new type with innovative service means

Recently, the first precious metal trading center of IB built in the pattern of flagship store was opened in Fuzhou. Consumers can enjoy one-stop professional services such as precious metal trading, financing, wealth management, investment, appreciation, and repo. The trading center is set inside a banking outlet, of which the hall establishes special showcases displaying a variety of real precious metal products such as gold bar, silver ingot, commemorative coin, ornament and pendant. Consumers can not only buy precious metal products at will but even exchange into cash and do financing with the adornments made of non-standard gold of high purity and standard gold not sold by the bank by repo with a third-party institution contacted by the bank. Different from common gold store, customers can experience both products and services in the center, where not only wealth management room and VIP lobby are set up, but also precious metal salons and investment lectures are held by the professional precious metal wealth management team on an irregular basis, with a view to helping consumers to learn the latest information on investment in precious metal and master operation techniques for investment in precious metal, and guiding them to make investment in precious metal. The bank plans to promote such precious metal trading center across China within three years relying on its own retailing outlets.

The precious metal trading center is only a small part of the whole story for the innovation in its banking outlets. In fact, the “Enjoyable Life” club and the visa center of “Universal Life” go-abroad financial service of IB across China not only offer individualized service to customers, but also provide good templates of reference for the transformation of banking outlets.

In recent years, IB has kept exploring the path of innovation in smart outlets, witnessing some preliminary effects. On the path of marching forward, the bank also plans to speed up innovation through systemic construction. For instance, it takes “mobile payment” as an important strategy for the future development of retail banking to boost its business planning and system development and intensifies the development of systems related to the management of service process including the management system for queuing at the outlet hall. It keeps improving the channel construction with technological means and elevating the smart service level of banking outlets steadily, so as to push in-depth optimization of customer service.