Opening shared banking centers

Shared Banking Centers

Last month, there were armed robberies at three Oahu banks. On May 1, a Central Pacific Bank in Wahiawa was robbed by a man with a handgun. On May 13, an American Savings Bank in Salt Lake was robbed by two men armed with a rifle and pistol. On May 30, an American Savings Bank at Pearlridge Center was robbed by two men with handguns. In response, American Savings Bank hired special duty police officers for their Oahu branches.

This post is not about gun control or gun rights. It’s about trying to make banks and customers safer, and save money too.

In shopping malls and strip malls, restaurants band together in food courts, giving consumers more choice and sharing the costs of table space and cleaning services. At large airports like Las Vegas, car rental companies join together in rental car centers. McCarran Rent-a-Car Center hosts 12 car rental companies, who share the costs of office space, utilities, shuttle bus services, parking, and even cars.

While banks are opening ATMs and branches in more convenient and economical places, like grocery stores and mass merchandise stores, they have continued to open and operate large, single-bank branches. Recently, Central Pacific Bank opened a new branch in Manoa (May 2014), First Hawaiian Bank built a new branch in Aina Haina (December 2013), and American Savings Bank opened in a new branch in Kailua-Kona (June 2013).

Banks may not want to give up their imposing presence or formal, elegant buildings, but maybe it’s time for banks to band together in shared banking centers.

Banks could benefit from shared banking centers because they could share the costs for offices, lobby space, conference rooms, utilities, and parking. They could hire more security guards and install better security cameras. With lower operating costs, they could extend their banking hours, making it more convenient for bank customers to stop by after work. Previously empty floor space could be set up with tables and chairs for people to read over bank paperwork or talk informally with bank representatives. They could even coordinate employee appreciation days and customer loyalty events.

Consumers could benefit from shared banking centers because we would have one-stop shopping for banking, credit and loan accounts. There might be more competitive rates, since banks know that customers could walk across the lobby to another bank. Bank fees might remain the same or even decrease, since operating costs would be lower. Walking into a bank might feel a little safer, because a shared banking center could afford to hire more security and better security cameras; and maybe a little less stressful, because banks might feel less intimidating.

Bank employees could benefit from shared banking centers because outstanding employees would be appreciated, if managers know that another bank easily could lure them away. They might feel safer, knowing that there is increased security and more staff during opening and closing hours. They could learn from other banks’ best business practices and share ideas.

Do you prefer to bank online, by phone, by ATM, or in person? How often do you visit your local bank? What do you think of a shared banking center?

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