Long-Distance Connection: High-tech Teller Machines

High-tech teller machines take care of transactions, leave more time for selling

by Jamie Swedberg

More and more credit unions are starting to experiment with souped-up kiosks that make traditional ATMs look like manual typewriters by comparison. Some of these new kiosks are like self-service touchscreen tellers that allow members to access credit union materials online. Others connect members to remotely located tellers via a video screen, offering personal service without as many staffing headaches.

The market for these video teller machines may be about to take off; in January, Duluth, Ga.-based NCR purchased upstart company uGenius, which had developed a covetable video banking technology. Now NCR is using that technology to help expand and improve its APTRA Interactive Tellers. Meanwhile, North Canton, Ohio-based competitor Diebold is enhancing its ATMs with an opt-in video teller.

What’s the point of doing this? For many credit unions, it’s cost, says Paul Seibert, CMC, VP/financial services at CUES Supplier member EHS Design Inc., Seattle.

“The biggest motivation is staff reduction and branch size reduction,” he explains. “It takes the focus off of transactions and refocuses it on development. This takes the transaction out of the branch environment, but it still has a person, so there’s still that personal connection. And it can be operated anywhere in the world.”

Christina Lethlean, president/CEO of $1.2 billion/113,000-member Gesa Credit Union, Richland, Wash., says for her institution, video tellers are a way to become more cost-effective, but still keep a high-touch approach. The CU has placed uGenius Personal Teller Machines in two branches, replacing traditional tellers. The CU plans are to expand to new locations in the future.


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