Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) Will Revolutionize Branch Banking, and Here’s Why

Advanced terminals, or ITMs, are fast emerging as the financial industry’s most transformative item of 2017. This technology will be at the heart of the branch automation process. It will open up distribution channels and provide a “branch in a box” experience to customers. Advanced terminals are literally branches in and of themselves, but can operate from a variety of ultra-convenient locations, including hotel lobbies, department stores, and standalone islands of their own.

ITMs in bank branches allow customers to interact with a tellers at a call center and perform many kinds of transactions.

A typical ITM, showing the remote teller on screen.

Interactive Teller Machines enable consumers to perform simple cash transaction or else engage in deeper, more personalized banking activities with remote tellers. They enable customers to perform an astonishing number of different transaction types, including:

  • Dispense cash
  • Deposit checks
  • Cash check to the penny
  • Cardless transactions
  • Loan payments
  • Bill payments
  • New account opening and funding
  • Transfer to any account
  • Adjust check holds and floats
  • Order replacement cards
  • Teller service in non-branch locations
  • Teller reviewed check cashing
  • Provide cash and check advances
  • Process savings bond redemptions
  • Advice on credit card application inquiries
  • Process customer CD renewals and inquiries
  • Identify new product sales opportunities
  • Open/close accounts and/or log referrals
  • Issue bank checks or money orders
  • Business account deposits
  • Business account withdrawals
  • Business account transfers
  • 3rd party account deposits
  • 3rd party account transfers
  • Sub-account actions
  • Investment account transactions
  • Access to all accounts
  • Home equity account payments
  • Home equity account withdrawals
  • Credit card payments

..and several more.

Interactive Teller terminals can be used as ATMs or to connect with remote video tellers. Customers can simply click on an “Interactive Teller” button and they are connected to a remote teller, located in a centralized call centre. The consumer and teller can communicate in real time, with the teller guiding the consumer through the transaction. This is a convenient way to interact with one’s financial institution at virtually any level. Customers can connect with remote tellers up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week from any ITM location (if the call center is staffed 24/7).

Some of the chief questions about audiovisual interactive ITMs are covered below.

A drive-up ITM outside a credit union in Connecticut.

Drive-up ITMs can be sited at branches, or as stand-alone islands.

What are the Features and Benefits of ITMs?

ITMs offer a combination of convenience, an empowered customer experience, personal self-service transactions, increased teller service hours and improved staff productivity. Imagine a drive-up island in a convenient location, where a bank’s customers can stop and perform literally any type of banking activity they want? This level of transactional expediency gives a competitive advantage that will be hard to beat, and set those organizations up for market domination. There’s a fine balance between customer expectations and the introduction of technologies that the average customer isn’t yet ready for. There’s no question that financial institutions’ customers are more than ready for advanced terminal or ITM banking. It’s a matter of when, not if.

Branch staff can roam the floor helping customers use the ITM, which guarantees they will use them again.

Branch staff must make themselves integral in educating customers on how to use the technology if it is to succeed.

How can ITMs Save You Money?

ITMs can create significant cost reductions, due to their requiring smaller footprints and having the ability to do the work of several employees. Among the cost-reducing aspects of ITMs are the following:

Reduced branch footprints (from an average of ~2,500 sq. ft. to 800 sq. ft.). An ITM requires much less square footage than a pod or teller line, which means branch size is notably smaller. In effect, the ITM functions as a “branch in a box”, or even a “distribution channel on steroids”. With a technology that can provide such a broad spectrum of services in a small space, some branch platforms may even be designed almost completely around the ITMs. Others may incorporate a small office or two for consultations, but the overall size of the branch is considerably smaller than the average.

Branch staff size can be reduced from 4-6 to 2-3. Considering an ITM virtually contains a teller, albeit at a remote location, the technology really does the work of a teller, and even of a personal banker, which accounts for two different staff types.

New construction costs reduced by 20-45%.

Financial institutions can build 2-3 smaller branches for the same cost as one traditional branch.

Branch exteriors can be designed as marketing billboards to enhance awareness.

Demographic Acceptance

Interactive teller machines in banks show a high degree of acceptance by customers of all ages.

The ITM is notably accepted by all age groups including 65+

What are the Most Important Services and Technologies that could be Offered to Customers at a Bank Branch?

Based on the 2015 Accenture North American Consumer Digital Banking Survey (4,004 adults):

ITM functions cover several important pain-points for banking customers.

Four out of nine of the most important services were covered by ITMs.

The ITM represents a convergence of the self-service and customer experience revolutions. It also signals the advent of the “tellerless” branch; these are branches that don’t require human tellers to be present (though other staff members may be present, operating in an advisory or consultant capacity). Other industries are already automating; McDonald’s recently announced their new self-service kiosks, where customers have a mobile pay option and can place their order at a touch-screen, receiving a number with a digital locator that guides the server to their table in the restaurant. The most well known automated transaction in recent years is the airport check-in. The automated airline check-in may have given initial pause to a lot of travelers but is now completely accepted by people of all ages. It’s easy to see how this will apply to McDonald’s and, within a few years, to the ITM. The difference with the ITM is that users can engage in an array of different financial activities from anywhere an ITM is installed.

It is important to take privacy and acoustics into consideration with any ITM design.

ITMs in a credit union, with a privacy partition between them.

Many of the different transaction types listed above can be performed on advanced terminals independent of a video teller interaction, but the audio-video link adds a depth of personal experience that occurs with some privacy and with the teller completely focused on the customer. More importantly, this degree of personal service isn’t just a nine-to-five offering now; ITMs allow face-to-face interaction with live human beings at times far beyond traditional banking hours, and this availability will only expand as time passes. The era of round-the-clock global financial transactions is almost upon us, with much of it being facilitated by advanced terminal ITMs for the average customer of community banks and credit unions.