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Will Video Kill the Teller Line? One CU Exec Doesn't Think So
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 6:50 AM

According to a study by Boston-based research firm Celent, 68 percent of consumers visited a financial institution branch in June 2013, and more than one-quarter of Americans cite branch convenience as a factor when they choose to switch financial institutions. But foot traffic is declining by as much as 5 percent annually. So what does this mean for financial institutions? Will they need to implement or expand self-service technology?

In an Aug. 12 article, BankDirector.com asked the question, “Will video kill the teller line?” Bob Meara, senior analyst at Celent, tells the news site that he sees the industry heading towards an increased self-service model, with staff available when needed. “I think the teller line [will be] extinct sooner rather than later,” he tells readers in the Aug. 12 article.

Lori Rhinehart, vice president of lending for University & Community FCU in Stillwater, Okla., isn’t quite sure about that.

“Technology is important; however, I don’t believe the end is near for the teller line,” Rhinehart tells the Leaguer. “We have some members who want the human interaction and will never be comfortable with technology.  Some actually fear technology and others don’t trust it.”

Rhinehart believes it’s important to offer both. University & Community FCU has three branches; offers online banking, and has a mobile app that features bill pay and remote deposit capture. The credit union also participate in CO-OP shared branching. 

“We have some members that only want to conduct transactions in the branch, and we have others – particularly our younger members who demand technology, but still value the fact that they can talk to a person in a branch if they need to,” Rhinehart adds.

Kevin Travis, managing director at New York-based bank advisory firm Novantas, tells BankDirector.com that when it comes to technology in the branch network, the single biggest sea change he sees in branch technology is the image-enabled ATM. Unlike a traditional automated teller machine, these ATMs scan images of customer deposits, whether cash or check.  Image-enabled ATMs have been around for about a decade, but adoption has not been universal by the industry so far. Celent estimates that about 1,300 banks and credit unions in the U.S. use them—about 10 percent of the industry.

Security Service FCU is one of those credit unions offering an image-enhanced ATM. John Worthington, executive vice president and chief communications officer with the San Antonio, Texas-based credit union says the credit union added the image-enabled ATMs at the end of last year, as an added convenience to members.

“The image-enhanced ATMs are more secure and in line with our continuing effort to eliminate paper transactions wherever possible,” says Worthington.  

Worthington agrees with Rhinehart that the branch is still important.

“Research tells us that while people more and more are adopting electronic devices and features to be online and take advantage of the many time-saving capabilities like BillPay, online banking, and others, a respectable percentage of credit union members like and want to be able to visit their credit union and deal face to face with people,” notes Worthington. “It will remain for the foreseeable future one of the many options we offer to make the member experience at SSFCU friendly, convenient and easily accessible on whatever delivery channel and time of day they choose to use it.”