Sep 19, 2016 | By Tess

3D printers have been popping up in lots of places, from libraries, to stores, to classrooms, but recently they have popped up in a less expected location: banks! Are they 3D printing money? No. But the Volksbank eG regional headquarters in Villingen, Germany is using 3D printers to help make its employees digitally literate, which in turn will help them to retain and improve their customer relations.

The 3D printer at the bank is actually part of a larger project which the bank has called its “innovation playground” which consists of additive manufacturing technologies, VR headsets, drones, IoT robots, digital mirrors, and Amazon’s hands-free Echo speaker. Currently, the Volksbank regional headquarters is only making the innovation playground available to employees, though it plans to open it up to potential customers in the future.

If you’re still wondering how a digitally literate bank employee would be an advantage, Thomas Bader, head of business development at Volksbank, explains that by giving its employees a hands-on experience with emerging technologies, the bank hopes that it will be better disposed towards helping its tech oriented business customers and offering them banking advice. He says: “The employees must change their private ideas and go with this new technology to the customer. We would like to bring our employees to this room to show them the future technology—they can play with it, put it in their hands and have fun.”

The innovation playground is also part of a larger effort to reach out to clients as many bank branches are forced to close down for a number of reasons. For instance, Volksbank, a German co-operative bank, has had to downsize its branches from over 45 to just 37 in the past ten years, with only 26 of those being staffed. Within the next 10 years, that number could even drop to as little as 10 branches, so making customer experiences as valuable and informed as possible is crucial.

Volksbank has definitely taken a step forward in giving its customer service an edge with the implementation of the 3D printer and the rest of the innovation playground. “Not many regional banks are thinking about this, and that’s a problem,” explained Mr. Bader. “Regional banks are smaller, with lower budgets and less time to think about this... At our bank we have a budget to look into the future and design ideas for employees and customers to bring together.”

The innovation playground was realized by Volksbank with the help of NCR, the U.S.-based company known as the maker of ATM machines. Ralf Kluth, NCR’s “innovation evangelist”, conceived of the idea for the digital playground with the vision that technology is the key to transforming the current economic and banking system.

Volksbank, which currently has 37 branches, 110,000 customers, and a €3.8 billion balance, hopes to see positive feedback and results from its new, and rather experimental, technological playground. After all, if you were opening up a business account for your 3D printing startup, wouldn’t you prefer to work with a bank that knows the technology?


[Via: FT]


Posted in 3D Printing Application



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John Dee wrote at 9/20/2016 5:19:03 PM:

As the banks have far more money than the rest of us, it would be far more impressive if they had machines we couldn't afford, SLS, CNC, etc. Instead of expensive toys like VR headsets, drones, IoT robots, digital mirrors, and Amazon’s hands-free Echo speaker.

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