Interactive Video Machines: Are ITM’s the Beginning of the End for Bank Tellers?

ITM machines in a credit union.

Here are 10 different names for interactive teller machines (ITMs):

Assisted teller machines; Automated video teller; Assisted video teller; Personal assisted teller; Interactive automated teller; Interactive video teller; Video teller machines; Remote teller machines; Interactive teller machines; Assisted interactive teller.

Every single term above contains the word “teller”. The obvious question here: Should bank tellers be worried about losing their jobs?

Bank tellers are becoming video tellers.

Time for change?

No.

This sounds counter intuitive, but it makes sense when you remember that this technology reflects larger behavioral shifts in the financial sphere:

• Banks are diversifying into new areas of finance.
• Branches are still the dominant sales channel.
• The shift to electronic channels means:
– New opportunities for branch personnel.
– Smaller, less costly branch construction.
– Reduced need for cash requires less space.
– New space can be used for higher-value channels.
• Branch locations are still a major factor in customer loyalty.
• The “Universal banker” role will become the norm.
• In-store micro-branches keep longer, more convenient hours.

Drive-thru video teller machine.

A drive-thru video teller; not so different from the flesh ‘n’ blood variety.

Banks and credit unions that apply the hub and spoke model to their branch distribution strategy will see an increase in number of branches, while those branches will be smaller and require fewer full-time employees. See the following pseudo-equation:

More branches + (Less employees / Branch) = No change.

Put simply, financial institutions can now expand their branch networks without adding new employees.
When tellers are cross-trained to deal with all the emerging channels and services offered by modern financial institutions, they become more valuable employees. They’re also more efficient, as they can move between roles as needed in real-time.

Universal banker at work.

Universal bankers manage multiple roles in various distribution channels.

Picture the spread of conveniently-located banks, out from headquarter hubs into supermarkets, malls, apartment block foyers, hotels and hospitals. Each micro-branch is staffed by valuable assets who know how to develop the multiplying retail channels offered in these locations.

Does this sound like remote video tellers are replacing traditional bank tellers?

No; they are being introduced in addition to human staff, who themselves are learning new skills to promote a growing number of services. A bank in Oklahoma recently launched an entire network of “homegrown video ATM’s” without having to lay off a single employee.

Video bank teller interacts with a customer.

People prefer personalized banking technology.

The new remote teller machines will be more user-friendly than their clunkier predecessors, with touch-screen technology and a less-imposing size. Branch staff can now focus on meeting visitors as they arrive, guiding them to where they need to be and providing a better all-round experience.

Financial industry C-suite officers and their EVP’s of Retail should be viewing remote video teller machines as efficient new allies in their expansion strategy. The transition from full-time employee overload to streamlined operation isn’t as tricky as it seems. Believe.

ITM machine in a credit union foyer.

Form and function are both evolving at a rapid pace.