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Coin-counting machines breathe new life into brick-and-mortar banks

Offering self-service coin counting machines at retail bank branches across the country may be just what it takes to get the U.S. financial services industry back on its feet.

According to data released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, banking institutions have been disappearing at an alarmingly rapid pace in recent years. The agency reported there are now only 6,891 establishments insured by the FDIC, which is the lowest that number has been since industry experts started keeping track in 1934. An article in The Wall Street Journal said the number of insured banks reached 18,000 during the mid-1980s. Since then, 17 percent have failed, while many others have become wrapped up in mergers or acquisitions.

What's causing this disappearing act?
The FDIC said changes in consumer behaviors have forced many financial institutions to focus on developing new digital tools to enhance the convenience of basic tasks such as transferring money, depositing checks or taking out loans. As a result, brick-and-mortar establishments have fallen by the wayside due to the assumption that the majority of individuals would rather access all of their services online. However, the elimination of in-store banking may result in unintended consequences. For instance, people still need to visit banks to complete tasks such as exchanging coins in for usable cash.

Physical branches also function as marketing tools to a certain extent. If a coin counting machine can help get more people through the door, banks may have the opportunity to gain new business from consumers who would otherwise forgo certain financial services. In other words, innovative customer service tools can breathe new life into the in-store experience. This may ultimately allow the banking industry to rebound from years of slow growth. 

December 9, 2013