Bank branches are evolving...and shrinking

What is fintech really about?

As spring sets in, most branches are expanding as new life buds. Everywhere but Wall Street, at least.

The industry is undergoing its most dramatic shift in how services are provided to the everyday client since the pneumatic tube was stripped from suburban drive-through locations and replaced with the automated teller. Branches are shrinking in size and technological features at brick-and-mortar locations are being beefed up to reduce reliance on service staff as banks aim to push more customers onto digital products.

"One way we are promoting adoption is by deploying digital ambassadors in our financial centers," Bank of America Chief Financial Officer Paul Donofrio said on its first quarter earnings call. "Digital ambassadors engage with customers who come to our branches to transact. They educate these customers on alternatives to branch banking which are not only more convenient for them but also less expensive for us."

Bank of America is rolling out a "digital bar" — think Apple's Genius Bar, but for bank customers — at more than 1,000 branches over the next few years, and at locations that will soon include New York.