Gunning for Youth, Conestoga Bank Revamps Branch IT

Five years ago, Conestoga Bank made its customer acquisition mission to capture a younger demographic that was unencumbered by traditional banking ties.

“One initiative was to strategize how to attract a new demographic,” Lori Adamski, COO of Conestoga Bank, tells Bank Innovation. “Our target is to get young people.”

Conestoga, with $621 million of assets, chose to recruit the 17-to-35 year old group. In doing so, it knew it must focus on improving technology – even in its branches.

That’s why the Chester Springs, Pa.-based community bank recently rolled out a new kind of branch. Bankwerx, the name of the branch model, eliminates traditional teller lines and incorporates video banking technologies into its physical footprint. Though only one of its 14 branches uses Bankwertz to date, Adamski says any time a branch relocates, or a new one opens, the bank will deploy the new strategy. Already, two branches are relocating, one in early 2013, she says.

Features in Bankwertz include personal teller machines, powered by uGenius, which link customers with virtual tellers. The modernized branch also boasts computers with free Wifi and iPads that showcase videos that explain how to use mobile banking products, including mobile RDC, a service the community bank was a leader in deploying.

Indeed, Conestoga says it was one of the first regional banks to deploy mobile RDC technology back in 2011. The technology is deployed through J & B Software and powered by Mitek Systems, a vendor that is currently fighting  a legal battle with USAA.

“We sought out Mitek as one company that really solved that issue for the company,” she says.  “Everyone gets a check. Adoption took off pretty quick.”

After 13 months using the technology, the bank has had zero cases of fraud. It’s also had an uptick of usage, which probably has something to do with its more aggressive marketing efforts, such as its mobile RDC billboard truck that drives around sporting events. Since deploying mobile RDC, 20% of its customer base has used mobile deposit.

What’s unique about the functionality is that the mobile RDC smartphone app exists separately from the bank’s traditional smartphone offering. Though Adamski tells Bank Innovation it is considering synthesizing them for its retail clients, she expects to keep the separate app for its business customers.

“We have business customers who are very happy with using the standalone app,” she says. “They are really comfortable giving their employees an app.”

When devising the innovations to deploy or new ideas to explore, Conestoga  relies on the bank’s internal creative team, which boasts about five participants, including the chief executive officer.

“We talk about everything, from banking to clowns,” Adamski says. “Several products and ideas have come out of the group.”