Chilean state bank BancoEstado will continue this year to increase its network of ServiEstado transaction offices across the country, and it could end the year with 25 new offices, BancoEstado personal banking and branch division manager Juan José Ruiz told BNamericas.
Today the bank has 71 ServiEstado offices, and the number of new offices for this year is currently under evaluation, said Ruiz. The main reason for opening new offices is to prepare for the 1.5mn pension and social benefit payments the bank will handle monthly, starting in the first half of 2010. Those transactions will come from a contract with the country's social security agency IPS that BancoEstado won in a tender in January this year.
For many years, crowded branches have been a headache for BancoEstado, and the ServiEstado concept was launched in 2005 to allow customers to perform many of their bank transactions at specialized offices with longer operating hours. ServiEstado staff is trained to handle transactions quickly and offices are open from 8am to 7pm during weekdays and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays, with some offices opening on Sundays as well.
Customers can perform most transactions at ServiEstado offices that they can at a branch, with the exception of transactions that take more time to perform, Ruiz said. There also are ATMs installed at all ServiEstado offices to promote the use of the bank's electronic channels, which is the other way for the bank to migrate transactions from its crowded branches, he added.
The ServiEstado offices have meant lower costs and better efficiency for BancoEstado, and improved customer service for clients, Ruiz said. A transaction at a ServiEstado office costs the bank 35% less than the same transaction at a branch, according to the executive.
BancoEstado is Chile's only state bank and one of the country's four largest banks in terms of lending.