Supporting multiple locations, whether branches or discrete banks, brings a variety of challenges. From an operations and technology perspective, however, the key is to provide a consistent customer
experience across all locations. This means the ability of the teller, loan, and deposit platform systems to serve customers from any location. It further means that line speeds and server horsepower, two key components of the speed with which applications load and run on your employee’s computers, must be up to par across all locations. In addition to purchasing systems and data communications capacity that are properly sized, the walking around test is necessary. That is, get out into the remote locations and watch your employees as they use their systems . . are screens slow to load and change, making it hard for employees to serve customers in a timely fashion? If so, it’s time to begin addressing why, by looking at communications lines, network capabilities, and other components of adequate access times.
Prevention – taking steps to greatly reduce the possibility of an occurrence. This is easier for things you control (installing redundant power supplies and hard drives in your network servers) than things you don’t control (weather).
Minimization – planning and testing will contribute to a lessening of the impact of any occurrence
Restoration – again, the planning and testing you’ve done will enhance your ability to respond and begin to restore operations.
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Now that we have a ruling on debit interchange, I wanted to remind you that debit cards, used in place of checks, remain a significant advantage to the bank, apart from any interchange fees you receive. The transaction itself (especially if we look at average dollar transactions) is less expensive to process, and the long term impact of storage and retrieval (essentially an 80 to 100 byte record vs 25 to 50 thousand bytes for checks) is greatly reduced. While your interchange fees will drop, as a result of the cap on interchange, imposing fees for debit card use constitutes an economic barrier to acceptance that sends the wrong message to your customers who have already embraced debit cards. Due in part to costs, you may need to reduce or eliminate rewards programs associated with debit cards, but these are not the only driver of customer use of debit . . . convenience and purchase protection are equally important. In terms of incentives, take time to re-evaluate simple utilization incentives, perhaps partnering with merchants, that will serve to build more volume for your debit card program.
Long term, electronic transactions are the way to go, and you want to continue to foster that mentality. Let’s not overreact and destroy the benefits we’ve built with debit cards.