Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Future of rural banking could be an 'ATM on steroids' that provides interactive bank tellers

The future of banking technology is getting its feet wet in rural America through a ATM-type devices called interactive bank tellers that connect users with a live person from a call center, Victor Epstein reports for the Des Moines Register. No longer will bank patrons in towns that lack a facility have to travel long distances to conduct their business. Instead, they can use the new system to make withdrawals "verify their identity, and accept stacks of up to 30 deposited checks or bills from local store owners."

NCR Corp. is rolling out the devices, which some industry experts call an ATM on steroids, "at an opportune time as national and regional banks abandon their least profitable locations in the wake of the financial crisis. In the banking industry that typically means those with the least foot traffic — rural banks — and those in high-crime areas," Epstein writes. NCR "estimates the potential market for video-enabled interactive tellers at $4 billion. It had 80 banks in the U.S. and Canada signed up as customers as of March 19 and about 400 interactive teller machines in service. It's sold more than 1,000 units since launching the new product in February 2012."

While critics say the machines could eliminate more than 100,000 bank-teller jobs in the U.S., 20 percent of such positions, advocates say the machines are exactly what remote areas need, Epstein reports. James Johnson, chief operations officer of PCSB Bank in Clarinda, Iowa, 85 miles from the closest metro area (Omaha), told Epstein, "We've bought into the idea that this is the future of community banking. As rural populations decline it becomes more and more difficult to maintain a traditional brick-and-mortar facility in them, but it's very possible with this technology. This is our solution to the problem." (Read more) (PCSB video)

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