Innovative layouts to benefit customers: drive-in branches

Back in the 1960s, when banks were welcoming an increasing number of individual customers, our bank innovated to better welcome and serve its clientele.

It should be remembered that, back then, the first ATMs such as the “Caisse Éclair” (instant banking) and the credit card had not yet appeared.

Making the most of the surge in car use, which was rapidly becoming widespread amongst the general public, representing both modernity and speed, some bank branches adopted a drive-in setup. Existing branches adapted a circuit adjacent to the branch and opened a hole in a wall to insert a protected counter. Customers were then able to carry out certain standard banking operations at that counter without leaving their vehicles.

A counter for drive-in customers was set up in Dakar in 1965 at a Société Générale de Banque au Sénégal branch. The Roubaix branch near Lille also opened that year, with a drive-in counter it called “auto-banque” (car bank), and in Nancy, another “auto-banque” counter was inaugurated in 1975 at the Godefroy de Bouillon branch. Bank branches entirely built around this car circuit also provided their customers with all the services associated with a standard branch, including the rental of safety deposit boxes.

Although customers appreciated this drive-in model, it did not last. Were the queues of cars getting too long? Did the arrival of ATMs have an effect? Were there concerns regarding confidentiality, security and the one-to-one relationship between customers and account managers?

In 2011, however, Bank Republic, a Societe Generale subsidiary in Georgia, returned to this idea, although the drive-in part is just an ATM where Georgian customers can safely carry out transactions from their vehicles.