Branch (banking)

A branch, banking center or financial center is a retail location where a bank, credit union or other financial institution (and by extension, brokerage firms) offers a wide array of face to face and automated services to its customers.

History and description

The practice of opening satellite branches was invented in the early 20th century by Amadeo Giannini, then head of the Bank of America. [cite news|publisher=San Francisco Chronicle|title=Grand buildings celebrate centennials|url=|author=Carl Nolte|date=2008-09-14] Historically, branches were housed in imposing buildings, often in a neoclassical architecture style. Today, branches may also take the form of smaller offices within a larger complex, such as a shopping mall.

Traditionally, the branch was the only channel of access to a financial institution's services. Services provided by a branch include cash withdrawals and deposits from a demand account with a bank teller, financial advice through a specialist, safe deposit box rentals, bureau de change, insurance sales (where it is allowed by law), etc. As of the early 21st Century, features such as automated teller machines (ATM), telephone and online banking, allow customers to bank from remote locations and after business hours. This has caused financial institutions to reduce their branch business hours and to merge smaller branches into larger ones. Conversely, they converted some into "mini-branches" [ Mini-branch definition] ,] with only ATMs for cash withdrawal and depositing; computer terminals for online banking and cheque depositing machines. Some mini-branches may have one or no human staff with only telephone support.

Some financial institutions, in an attempt to show a friendlier image, offer a boutique or coffeehouse-like environment in their branches, with sit-down counters, refreshments, interactive displays, music and playing areas for children. Some branches also have drive-through teller windows or ATM's. Other financial institutions reduce their costs and position their offerings by having no branches and are sometimes known as virtual banks.

Types of branches

Branch types include:

Traditional Branch or Brick and Mortar Branch

These are typically stand alone branches of a financial institution that often are contained in its own building. These branches typically offer full service banking including safe deposit boxes. They may include access to a drive-through teller windows.

In-Store Branch

These are typically branches located in a retail space such as a grocery store or discount store. They may be full service branches or limited service branches. They generally do not include a drive-through teller windows or safe deposit boxes.

Green Branch

Green Branch® is a federally registered trademark to denote the environmentally friendly construction and design of retail banking locations. This term was granted as a trademark by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Oct. 23, 2007 [] to The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). The basis for the federal patent office’s approval of PNC’s trademark application included the determination that financial and banking services are not generally associated with environmentally friendly or ecologically efficient characteristics.


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