Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bank of America to open 'express' branch at EpiCentre

Bank of America will bring its new, smaller type of branch to Charlotte next week, when an "express center" opens at the EpiCentre.

Spokeswoman Tara Burke said the existing Bank of America branch at the EpiCentre will be changed to the new format. The branch closes 3 p.m. Friday for the conversion work, but will reopen Nov. 7 as the express center, she said.

With a Bank of America flagship branch at its headquarters building nearby, the EpiCentre site "just made sense" for the first express center in Charlotte, she said.

Bank of America unveiled the express branches this month. They come as banks re-examine the role of branches amid the rising use of online and mobile banking and report a decline in use of tellers. Wells Fargo and PNC Financial Services Group are also experimenting with smaller branches.

Bank of America said the express branches will not have tellers. But they come equipped with the bank's new Teller Assist automated teller machines, which allow real-time access to tellers via video screens outside of normal banking hours. The bank touts that extended access as a key component of the express branches.

The bank declined to say how many tellers worked at the EpiCentre branch. It said displaced tellers are relocated to other sites within the same market and that the express centers are not part of a strategy to reduce headcount.

The branches are also staffed with a manager and a personal banker. Customers can access mortgage and other specialists remotely via teleconferencing at some of the express branches, but not the one at the EpiCentre.

Bank of America also says personnel at the new branches will be able to show customers how to download the bank's mobile banking app. The bank has said the new branches will complement its traditional branches, which will generally be within three miles from an express center.

Bank of America's first express center opened on Wall Street in late August. The bank has said it plans to open five more express branches in the U.S. by the end of the year. Boston is among the cities that will get the new branches, the bank said.

Burke said the bank has not released other locations, or opening dates, for additional express branches in Charlotte.