Wells Fargo is playing its part in evolving bank branches: it will bring a new, hi-tech store concept that will make an appearance next week. Although these new branches are significantly smaller than the average Wells Fargo branch, feature-packed ATMs and mobile-enabled staff are expected to contribute to an unconventional banking experience.

WF NoMa 2
Photo courtesy of Wells Fargo

The first branch to test this concept is roughly 1,000 square feet while a regular Wells Fargo branch is 3,000 to 4,000 square feet. Bankers will be able to serve customers through wireless tablets and phones while a free wireless hotspot allows customers to access their online accounts.

Through upgraded large-screen ATMs, Wells Fargo customers will be able to withdraw cash in $1, $5, $20 and $100 denominations, a capability that is not yet available to most Wells Fargo ATMs.

“We’re opening this first store in the NoMa neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and we plan to learn from the feedback we receive from our customers and team members,” said Richele Messick, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, in an email statement. “From there we’ll consider our options and opportunities for expanding and introducing this model into other markets.”

With a successful turnout, Wells Fargo customers could see more of these new branches.

Branches fight back

The many innovations of online and mobile banking have led industry watchers to speculate that the death of branches is on the horizon. According to research firm SNL Financial, there were 2,267 bank branches that closed in 2012 while only 1,149 were opened.

Despite the dwindling number of branches, banks like Wells Fargo are betting on these types of physical locations.

Chase is testing innovative branches that offer self-service teller kiosks, instant issue debit and credit cards, paperless teller transactions and teleconferencing. Citibank has opened multiple flagship branches that feature interactive media walls, video-assisted customer service, free Wi-Fi for customers and enhanced-image ATMs.

It’s a battle to maintain the relevance and utility of branches without neglecting the need for innovation.

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  • This is becoming a new banking trend and as a financial planner in a bank branch I don’t like it because it takes the personal aspect out of personal finance. As a client I don’t like it either becuase if I wanted everything to be digital I would use online banking. If/when I have to go into a bank branch I want to get service. I am a client with TD Bank and thankfully their whole motto is about personalized service and comfortable banking. Great post, I am going to share it next Friday on our Dinks Finance weekly roundup. Have a great weekend.

  • Yeayea

    Less people working, more unemployed and the fees are the same. You do the math, more profit for the rich.

  • Joe

    5’s and 10’s not available to most atms?Yes,but they always were available at the previous named banks that are now called wells fargo….and were available at atms’s for decades!Your just bringing something back that wells fargo stopped a number of years ago,so its nothing new.And its about time again!If I want 10 dollars out of my account that only has 15 dollars left in it,I could not do that and still cannot do it without going into the bank….becuase i can only get a minimum of 20 dollars.But what if it is like 3 am and my bank does not have this new trend?So there is still a necessity for the guy who needs smaller amt’s out instead of $20.Plus,drawing out less than 20 is a better saving thing.