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In a 2014 speech, Ross McEwan, the CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, made an extraordinary claim that has won him quite a bit of fame within both the banking and technology circles. His exact words were the following: “Our busiest branch in 2014 is the 7:01 from Reading to Paddington – over 167,000 of our customers use our mobile banking app between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. on their commute to work every day. Over 2.1 million customers use our mobile app every week.”

Mr. McEwan’s point was that digital technology was transforming the banking industry and consumer habits in particular, even at an institution as venerable as the RBS, which will celebrate its third century in existence in 2027. Of course, the flip side of this trend is bad news for consumer traffic in bank and credit union branches. According to research firm CACI, bank branch traffic will decrease by 36% over the next five years, averaging just four visits per year per customer, down from seven visits. While convenience is a welcome advancement across all industries, in order to meet today’s high standards for consumer experience, engagement is critical – and near impossible without offering people a reason to visit a store.

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