Finally, one of the nation’s four major banks admits that mobile banking is changing the face of financial services.
Stumpf was asked whether the number of Wells branches (there are more than 6,000 of them, parenthetically) will decline. His answer: mobile banking is influencing that decision.
… I couldn’t be happier about the 6,000 or so stores that we have and stores still today remain incredibly important in the overall distribution community. Even though online, especially tablet, the so called lean-back technology, is changing the industry.
Most customers choose their first financial services provider based on proximity to where they live and we have a store within two miles of half the American population. It’s a huge advantage.
But we used to build 5,000 square foot stores with a 10 penny sign. Now we’re building 10 penny stores with a 5,000 square foot sign. It’s more important because if customers come there and then use other technologies, they want to be able to go and say, that’s where my money is, that’s where I can go if there is an issue, that’s where I go if I have a big transaction to do. So, stores still remain an incredibly important part of the ecosystem of delivery.
That might change over time and the tablet or the smartphone is changing the way customers do business with us. They are on with us much more. They are learning more and we’re doing, have all kinds of experiments and test going on, paperless stores and more self-service.
But and change is not new to us. I mean we’ve been — we had at one time in this company one service model. It was a stage coach and that went away after a few years and we have tried something else, so this is — I find this exciting.
Stumpf went on to say that the aggregate square footage of Wells branches will likely decline at Wells, which should decrease the bank’s real estate expenses. That is, assuming the bank doesn’t need to leave room at its branches for stagecoaches.
It should surprise few that Stumpf is addressing mobile banking now. Wells is preparing a launch of a tablet app, as well as a revamp of its smartphone app, for release early this year.