‘The bank for a changing world’: the slogan of BNP Paribas for a number of years, is extremely apt for a bank in touch with the real world. Ranked first on the list of French financial institutions and named the ‘World’s best bank’ for 2016 by Euromoney, this bank has very quickly understood that the world is indeed changing, being pushed by irreversible technological transformations and by clients/consumers whose behaviour is also undergoing radical change: better informed, more independent, increasingly demanding in terms of wanting the best service for their money, they expect personalised services, flexibility in how they manage their accounts, to feel that they are being listened to, a fluid relationship and more besides…substantiated costs!

BNP Paris has understood (as have others!) that counter services are a thing of the past and that tomorrow, digital will lead to a streamlining of contact points, both real and virtual. So much so that the binder of all types of transactions is/will be the smartphone, the Swiss knife of our daily life. FinTech start-ups are already attacking the bastion that is the banking sector and the world’s coolest brands are getting excited. Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook with their hundreds of millions of users, their powerful technologies and their colossal resources are creating their digital counter services and asserting themselves as contact points which are substantially more facilitating, immediate and permanent than a bank branch. Even if they claim not to be looking to bypass traditional banks, these global giants, indisputable relational platforms, aspire to omnipotence and ubiquity: they know that today’s generation of children will never set foot in a bank as adults…

So, are bank branches set to disappear? In their current form, without a doubt. BNP Paribas is anticipating this by streamlining its network and acquiring Compte-Nickel, a FinTech brand which has quickly established itself on the banking landscape by offering a current account and card service available more or less over the counter in tobacconists for €20. No bank staff to deal with, no paperwork to fill in or sign, ID and a mobile phone number suffice.

The future is in this proximity/convenience with products and services which can be purchased in the places where people go about their daily lives: food stores, petrol stations, dry cleaners, ecommerce sites, etc. La Poste is a case in point: undergoing a radical existential revolution, weighed down by a cumbersome network, it is starting to open up serving points in convenience stores, third party locations which are once again becoming multiservice general stores, living contact points in our day-to-day lives.

‘The bank which no longer resembles a bank’, could well be the future slogan of BNP Paris which, with the brand Compte-Nickel, may one day be as cool and agile as Apple or Facebook…