Remote Bank Teller Technology Gains Ground

By Arielle Kass

ATLANTA — It’s 9 at night and your bank’s been closed for hours. You need to deal with a real live person. A regular ATM won’t cut it.

Banks and credit unions are rolling out new technology that adds Skype-like video connections to oversized ATMs, letting you talk to tellers early in the morning and into the night. With them, you can complete complicated transactions that can’t be done at the ATM, even when the bank is closed.

The machines use video screens, scanners, and signature pads to connect customers to live humans in call centers, letting them open accounts, transfer funds, or get cash back from deposits, among other things, without an in-person interaction.

The technology is a money-saver for banks, which can open smaller branches with fewer staff. At the same time, the devices make banks more accessible to customers, allowing them extended access to services.

Bank of America Corp. is testing such machines in metro Atlanta, and several smaller banks and credit unions are installing them in drive-through teller lanes or in their lobbies.

‘Technology’s great, but when you need somebody, you need somebody.’

With the rise of online and mobile banking technology, the bank branch system already is in flux.

Georgia had 210 fewer branches in March 2013 than it did at the peak in 2008, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., in part because of failures since the credit bust, but mostly due to consolidation because of changing habits and technology.

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