Credit union dumps old tellers' stalls in radical overhaul
IT IS the brand new bank which takes the staid old banking experience of the past and flips it 180 degrees.
At Summerland Credit Union's overhauled Lismore branch, gone are the steel and glass security screens which once divided tellers from customers.
That feature, which dominates most old-fashioned banks, is rendered obsolete by secure machines which tellers can operate but can't access.
So instead of standing behind glass, they serve the public from the shop floor.
This is just one of many changes in a revolutionary new branch design which has been two years in the making and redesigned from the ground up.
Every detail of the design has a purpose in keeping with the modern needs of bank customers, said Summerland marketing manager Bruce Parry.
"We determined that the world of banking is changing ... 96% of transactions are done online, only 4% happen in the branch," Mr Parry said.
"But a lot of people still come in for other things. It might be loans, consolidating their finance ... or how to save up for a holiday.
"We're dividing up the service to match the conversations and enquiries that are coming in."
Two iPads are available for customers to perform their own internet transactions, there's in-store Wi-Fi including a special app with banking tips and trivia, and there's even a coin counter for buskers and those who still use a piggy bank.
Simply feed it any number and type of coins and out pops a piece of paper with the total. Foreign coins get spat out the bottom.
"On Monday we had a busker come in with a huge bag full of coins," Mr Parry said. "It would have taken him hours to count them all but the coin counter took him less than a minute."
There are also booths in the wall for customers to open bank accounts with the help of a staff member, a lounge, and even a kids' area with a fun computer game.
Summerland's new branch is one of the first of its type in regional New South Wales and the first on the Northern Rivers.
It's impressive enough to be showcased at an Australia-wide banking conference in Adelaide this week.
It might also lead to a hat-trick for the branch in the Lismore Chamber of Commerce's excellence in professional services award - which it has won the last two years in a row.
The bank is also switched on to the region's environmental bent, barring loans or investments in fossil fuels and supporting Divestment Day which encourages financial institutions to shed such investments.