"Banks in transition: from counters to apps"

"Banks in transition: from counters to apps"

Over the past 20 years, the face of Swiss banks has changed significantly. Where once the personal contact in the branch office used to be a priority, banking has now arrived on the smartphone. Which leads to several questions: How do we pay, save and invest - today and in the future? Which institutions do we trust?

The aim of the exhibition "Banks in Transition: From the Counter to the App" is intended to show the transformation of the Swiss financial centre and the relationship between private clients and banks. Whereas personal contact in the branch used to be the main focus, banking has now moved to the smartphone, in an anonymised form.

The exhibition's first section is devoted to history and shows the roots of Swiss banking: From the Middle Ages, when the first merchants became settled bankers, through the 16th and 17th centuries, when exchange offices fulfilled the first functions of a central bank and the first private banks were founded, Swiss banks then evolved in the 19th century into what would later become the Swiss financial centre. On display in this section are historical securities of Swiss banks as well as the oldest bank still in existence; the "Monte dei Paschi di Siena".

The emerging Swiss financial centre was characterised by a heterogeneous banking landscape – from the local savings bank to the private bank to the big bank; illustrations explain the different typologies and how they were weighted. 

Since the advent of the internet, there has also been quite a bit of momentum in banking. This is shown in another part of the exhibition. For example, the tools that exist today only in digital form: In the past, deposits were made with physical payment slips and yellow receipt books at the Swiss Post Office, but today deposits have long since become an integral part of every e-banking service. The same applies to the "Spar-Buechli” – the booklet that certified the ownership to the holder of a bank account as well as all transactions has today been replaced by digital account statements.

At the same time, the number of branches has been steadily decreasing ever since; banking is migrating first to the internet and then to the smartphone. In the final part of the exhibition, dedicated to the present day, visitors can find out what neobanks are, what role mobile phones and artificial intelligence play in banking. This exhibition area will be highly interactive in order to translate the advancing digitalisation into a haptic experience. As a highlight, two tablets are available on which visitors can get to know banking and retirement apps. A robo-advisor can be tested at an interactive station. Similarly, another display table explains new phenomena such as cryptocurrencies or NFTs and gives banking experts and a financial expert the floor. This part is complemented by securities of tech companies such as Amazon or Apple, which are trying to upend the financial sector.

An Insight