In the wake of a 17.5 percent growth in ATM transactions during 2015, FirstBank announced Wednesday the expansion of its automatic teller network in Puerto Rico with a total of 80 new locations.
The new machines will push FirstBank’s network of in-branch and remote ATM locations to 222.
The expansion consists of a branding program with partner NorthStar Technologies, a subsidiary of Ranger American, which has placed the new ATMs throughout Puerto Rico, particularly high-traffic towns like San Juan, Carolina, Caguas and Dorado. Once the new FirstBank ATMs are online, the bank will have presence in 50 towns.
“We’re expanding to places that most people frequent: gas stations, grocery stores, drug stores,” said Luis E. Pérez, senior vice president and director of Electronic Banking at FirstBank, which is currently second in ATM banking terminals in Puerto Rico, for a 14.5 percent market share. The bank’s target is to reach 20 percent of the market in 2018.
“This is important given that 72 percent of bank customers use automatic tellers,” Pérez said.
According to the 2015 Financial Behavior of Individuals Study by Inmark, FirstBank customers prefer to use branches and alternative channels, such as automatic tellers, to perform their transactions.
With this in mind, the bank has strengthened its service strategy, focusing on the customer experience philosophy through all channels and the development of cross-sales strategies and products, including improvements in price and profitability, said Ginoris López-Lay, executive vice president at FirstBank.
“We know the channels our customers prefer — branches and ATMs — and we have noticed an increase in the use of our digital channels,” said López-Lay, who is in charge of the company’s new organizational structure, an integration of its departments of strategic planning, marketing, development and product profitability.
“This data has led us to make a significant investment in the innovation of many of our products and services and to focus on acquiring more customers,” she explained.
Expansion of technological services
Upon detecting an increase in customer adoption of remote access technology for their banking transactions, FirstBank has embarked on a redesign our its internet and mobile banking services, she said.
The new design will integrate all of the bank’s services and products into a single platform, to offer new and better functionalities make customer transactions easier and migrate them to electronic channels.
As part of this expansion, FirstBank has launched the pilot service program, “Banca en tus manos” at its Plaza Las Américas branch. The initiative features a modern station with staff to guide customers in the benefits of alternative channels, from where they will be able to make transactions, avoid lines, and expedite their processes.
The full deployment is expected to take place on or before the third quarter of 2017, López-Lay noted.
FirstBank has been offering electronic services to its customer base since 2014, when it introduced “ATH Móvil,” through which users can send and receive cash person-to-person through their cell phones or computers, and between accounts from different participating banks and credit unions. To date, this service has approximately 61,000 users at FirstBank, officials said.