Isolated areas are defined as regions characterised by intense isolation problems and "small" population that function as the main obstacle to the provision of crucial public services through traditional means. The proposed project focuses on examining alternative ways to combat the isolation of these areas in the financial sector. Its objective is to identify and apply innovative solutions in order to provide financial services that correspond to the needs and the demands of people living in isolated areas around Europe, as well as their SMEs.
These solutions will be based on the idea of the virtual bank branch consisting of business structures and technological solutions in order to extent the bank presence to these remote areas. This dynamic virtual entity will extend the bank presence and will provide financial services to remote areas using state of the art information and communication technologies.
The project will identify, design, develop, apply and evaluate business models and technological solutions for the implementation of the virtual bank branch. The technologies for the implementation of the dynamic virtual entity will be based on the cash-augment model that allows the circulation of cash in remote areas and on the cashless society model that attempts to substitute cash by electronic value. Both technologies will be supported by a virtual help-desk system.
The first step for the implementation of the virtual bank branch is to identify user needs. Based on national needs of two European countries with significant socio-economic differences, Greece and Finland, the project will result in a common place of needs related to financial services for the European citizen (individual and SMEs) of isolated areas. User needs will be the basis for the definition of the functional requirement for the business models and the technological solutions that will be used for the implementation of the virtual bank branch. The selection of viable solutions for the implementation of the virtual bank branch will be based on feasibility studies.
The architecture of alternative solutions will be designed and the communication protocol between individual components will be specified. The different components of each solution will be designed and the implemented prototypes will be tested and verified.
Then the implemented solutions will be applied to four pilot sites: two on isolated islands of Greece and two in remote Northern regions of Finland. The applied solutions will be evaluated by the local inhabitants in order to market test the product, to identify user's attitudes towards the solutions and their usage, measure user's satisfaction and identify potential pitfalls. Finally, specific activities will be carried out for exploitation and dissemination of the project results.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts