According to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, nearly two-thirds of banking executives around the world think the branch-based model can be closed within five years. Of the more than three hundred executives interviewed by the EIU, 65% think the branch model will disappear within five years, while only four years ago the same question was answered by 35% of respondents. 65% see new technologies like cloud, artificial intelligence and API as the trends that will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next four years, compared to 42% three years ago. More than 80% above all believe that AI will be the main differentiator between banks and a third of respondents are concentrating their technological investments precisely on artificial intelligence platforms. Accelerated to action by the pandemic, forecasts indicate that the sector’s activities will evolve into ecosystems over the next two years, which will involve banks in partnerships with banking and non-banking third parties. The new platforms for branch virtualization take place in a scenario like the Italian one which, if we consider the Bank of Italy data, has seen a reduction in the number of branches from 34 thousand to 24 thousand only in the last decade. A cut of one third, which should continue over the next few years and which traces a ratio between branches and inhabitants in the proportion of 29 per 100 thousand, compared to the 5 branches per 100 thousand inhabitants that there are, for example, in a strongly pushed country like Finland. towards digital payments. With this in mind, the experiences of interpenetration between physical and virtual begin to spread also in our country: from the collaboration between Cassa di Risparmio di Volterra and Armundia Group, for example, the Armundia Face2Face platform was born, which the bank proposes under the name of Virtual Branch. The platform allows customers to maintain human contact with their consultant remotely through the digital innovation of a live video call. The goal is to enhance the link with the territory and people, converging on the new relationship technologies that guarantee the fundamental functions of a bank branch. Virtual Branch is a latest generation web video meeting and professional video chat platform, which performs all the functions necessary for the virtualization of some services provided by branches in a fully compliant with regulations, combining the advantages of a traditional physical relationship (ability to listen, interception of needs, attention, eye contact, human touch, interaction) with typical ones of a remote digital service (convenience, speed, punctuality, ubiquity). The system allows customers to book an appointment and remotely meet their consultant even when they are not in the same city or cannot physically go to the bank. A tool that also allows you to sign remote contracts thanks to the integration of qualified electronic signature systems.
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