Tour PNC’s ‘Universal Branch’

Jennifer Albertz is a financial consultant at PNC Bank's “Universal Branch” in Harrisburg. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

Banking is becoming an electronic medium, with more banking every year done online through a computer, smartphone or tablet.

Banks have started to decide how to cope with this new trend, and some have played with the idea of using local brick-and-mortar branches without traditional tellers. That model made its debut in the midstate in December, as Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank has started converting its branches to its new model of a “Universal Branch.”

Of the 23 PNC branches in the bank’s Central Pennsylvania footprint, six are being converted to the universal model, according to Rick Donegan, PNC’s regional manager of the Harrisburg and State College area branches.

One of the first to be converted was the branch at 2 N. Second St. in Harrisburg. Here is a tour of what PNC’s new branch model looks like at its downtown location, and how it differs from a traditional branch. 

Lobby managers

They’re the first thing you’ll notice when you walk in. Part greeter, part banking concierge, they’ll welcome you into the branch, then find out exactly what you’re looking for and who in the office can help you do it. Or they can help you with your electronic banking or ATM questions.

Smart ATM

The new ATMs that accept cash deposits and can dispense $1 bills aren’t exclusive to PNC; many of the larger banks have started converting their ATMs to the smart model. But PNC lobby managers and other employees are putting more emphasis on the smart ATMs to make banking easier for customers. The branch has 24-hour access to the smart ATM.


Lobby managers — or “financial consultants” — carry an iPad with them in case that’s what the customer is more comfortable using or to introduce the customer to the concept of banking by tablet. Customers can access their accounts safely on the provided iPad and receive a tutorial on how to use it from the lobby managers.

No ‘tellers’

Just don’t call it a tellerless branch, because if that’s what you need, PNC will still provide it, bank officials said. But tellers in the traditional sense of someone behind the bank partitions waiting for you to come in aren’t there anymore in PNC’s universal branch model.

“The whole thing of this is not to eliminate options but to add them,” said Richard French, the Second Street branch manager. “People could come in and say they’re comfortable with a teller making the deposit for them, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Private banking room

In case you are not comfortable accessing your account at the universal table, there is a private room where a customer can fill out any necessary paperwork or use a smartphone or tablet to access an account in private.

Universal table

It’s a computer at a desk in the lobby where customers can access PNC’s network and their accounts.

Michael Sadowski

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