Slow disruption: when was the last time you visited your bank?

Sometimes disruption happens fast and is very visible like the introduction of the smartphone. Other times it happens very slowly. I came across this article that HSBC put a cute robot in their flagship (who knew that’s a thing for banks?) branch on Manhattan. Obviously the idea is to increase foot traffic. It’s a good a marketing stunt, but I doubt it’ll increase foot traffic because in all honesty who visits their branch anymore?

I’ve been banking with USAA for years. I like that they don’t have any branches at all. They’ve a decent app and for everything else there’s always a friendly customer service people I can call. It’s much easier. Before I moved to the US, I banked with ING and I still hold an account there. They did have branches, but they prided themselves there was no reason to visit it because you could do everything by phone and nowadays using their app or site. They realized a long time ago that technology will replace most of the branch activities.

Banks are wrecking their brain about what to do with their branches. They’re costly to maintain and not that productive anymore. It’s easier when disruption is fast, it’s like ripping off a band-aid. When disruption happens slowly, you define the pace. We all now where it’s going, but when do you pull the plug. You see something similar happen in retail. Toys”R”Us is a great example of reacting too slowly. Sears is another one.

Slow disruption is like a thief in the night. If you’re not careful, you won’t know what hit you.