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Published: 27 Jun 2018

Will the Banks of the Future be Operated by Robots?

Already changing the retail landscape, automation is finding its way into banking, too. The world’s first bank fully operated by robots has opened in China – a country emerging as a digital leader thanks to an open approach to disruptive technologies, and low concerns about data privacy.

China Construction Bank has opened the branch in Shanghai, complete with two concierge robots, automated self-service kiosks and a full surveillance system.

Consumers are welcomed by Little Dragon – a friendly robot with a cartoon-like avatar face, designed to reassure visitors. As the entrance guardian, she comes with a PIN pad and talks to customers, takes bank cards, checks accounts and answers questions. Consumers enter the branch and pass through electronic gates by scanning their faces and IDs. For second visits, facial recognition is sufficient to open the barriers and access customer data.

Inside, visitors interact with automated teller machines to open accounts, transfer money and make foreign exchanges. A second robot is on hand for assistance, while a virtual reality room with a live video connection to a human is available if customers require face-to-face interaction. The space is monitored by eight surveillance cameras and human security staff.

China’s unmanned retail sector is expected to triple in size to 65bn yuan (£7.5bn) by 2020 (iResearch, 2017).

This innovative branch reflects China’s disruptive approach to retailing, which we’ve highlighted in our report Uni-Commerce: Chinese Retail Focus. If you’re a bank trying to reassure your role within the modern retail age, have a look at Reimagining Retail Banking.

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