Interactive Banking and the Future of ITMs
It’s September 1969…
People wait in breathless anticipation for the unveiling of a machine that will revolutionize the banking industry. Supposedly, this machine allows people to access their money on the go, wherever they are, without having to wait for or interact with a bank teller. This is the automatic teller machine — the ATM.
As ATMs gained popularity in the 1970s, the banking public was quickly taken with the idea. By the 1980s, the ATM was a staple of society, and the technology has only continued to advance since then. Now, more banks and credit unions are adopting the next generation of self-serve technology: the interactive teller machine, or ITM.
What is an Interactive Teller Machine (ITM)?
Built with the standard functions of an ATM, including a PIN pad, card reader, and receipt printer, the ITM features a two-way video conferencing system that connects the user with a remote teller. This real-time communication enables users to speak directly to a customer service representative who can perform 80%–90% of the services of an in-person teller. Some ITMs also offer a chat function and phone receiver for increased privacy, especially in more public settings.
While most ATMs dispense cash in $20 increments at minimum, ITMs are capable of dispensing smaller bills and even coins (in some cases). Like ATMs, most ITMs feature a signature pad, ID scanner, card reader, and deposit slot, and some can even perform identification verification using biometrics in the event of a lost or stolen ID. With the added benefit of one-on-one customer service from a remote teller, ITMs are truly a “branch in a box.”
Perhaps the most important element of the ITM is its ability to integrate with a financial institution’s (FI) core banking platform. Whereas an ATM may need to access several different platforms and systems to complete a single transaction, ITM software can “plug” directly into an FI’s banking platform, saving time, increasing customer data security, and ensuring accurate transaction results.
In addition to placement in bank or credit union branches, ITMs can be installed in hotels, shopping malls, airports, and in standalone kiosks with 24/7 access. Remote tellers can operate from call centers or physical branches several time zones away from an ITM kiosk, meaning that they can offer users extended hours beyond those offered by local branches.
ATM vs. ITM Technology
Here’s an at-a-glance comparison of the standard features offered by ATMs and ITMs.
|Real-time video conferencing||✔|
|Real-time chat support||✔|
|Cash withdrawals in increments under $20||✔|
|Access account information||✔||✔|
|Bill & loan payments||✔||✔|
|Open new accounts||✔|
|Order replacement cards||✔|
|Credit card payments||✔||✔|
|Process savings bonds||✔|
|Issue bank checks or money orders||✔|
|Investment account transactions||✔|
|Certificate of deposit (CD) renewals & inquiries||✔|
9 Benefits of Interactive Teller Machines for Financial Institutions
Besides satisfied customers and members, ITMs deliver a wide range of benefits to financial institutions.
Reduce branch staff accommodations:
When tellers are no longer required to remain physically in the branch, FIs can save money and square footage typically designated for employee parking spaces, lunch and break areas, training space, and storage. ITMs may also lead to an overall staff reduction, since the remote “universal” teller may be able to perform enough services that customers no longer need to approach a teller in person.
Employee retention: If, for some reason, a branch needs to close temporarily or permanently, ITM software integration enables employees to continue to work from home without having to relocate or find a different job.
Standardize processes: A team of remote video tellers can work from the same platform, sharing information and best practices, and establish core processes that ensure both smooth customer interactions and backend operations.
Expand business hours: ITM video functionality provides the opportunity for later hours, especially if kiosks can stay open (and remote tellers can stay online) after a traditional branch closes for the day. Provided there is a remote teller on call, ITMs can help banks and credit unions meet the needs of customers and members with unconventional schedules. Typical ATM functionality can continue 24/7.
Extend service reach: At a fraction of the size and cost of a traditional branch, institutions can install ITMs in locations they may not have been able to reach historically. This can include underserved communities, transportation hubs, college and school campuses, and even residential neighborhoods.
Lower construction costs: A standard ITM costs around $80,000 — compare that to the cost of a branch build or renovation, and that’s potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars saved by installing or building an ITM kiosk.
Reduce operating costs: While traditional branches are important for establishing reliability and brand awareness, they are also expensive to maintain. For institutions looking to reduce spending, ITMs can deliver the same financial services at a much lower cost. Also, consider that one remote staff person could perform the job of several in-person tellers, thereby reducing the FI’s staffing costs.
Improve customer service: Since ITMs can perform all the functions of an ATM (and then some), it’s likely that a user would access the video conferencing function when they need more personalized service. As a result, universal tellers spend less time and energy on tutorials or routine transactions and more energy on cross-selling and building strong relationships with customers.
Innovation: Consumers are drawn to companies and institutions that embrace technological innovation. Not only do ITMs offer a novel way of banking to existing customers and members, but they can also attract new customers who prioritize savvy, future-facing institutions.
8 Benefits of Interactive Teller Machines for Customers & Members
It’s no secret that today’s consumer is looking for more convenient and efficient ways to bank — and ITMs deliver.
Flexibility: By offering expanded hours, ITM kiosks are ideal for customers/members seeking personalized service, but who don’t have the time or ability to physically visit a branch during business hours.
Specialized services: Access to a remote financial expert means that customers/members can perform transactions related to their mortgage, wealth management, and fraud prevention. Users may even be able to request a multilingual teller, who can be reached with the tap of a few buttons.
More tailored transactions: ATMs are usually limited to dispensing preset cash denominations determined by the governing financial institution (often increments of twenty). This can sometimes be inconvenient if a user wants to avoid carrying too much cash. ITMs can provide cash in much smaller increments, and some can even dispense coins.
User friendly: With an intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface, most customers and members will have little trouble using an ITM, even for the first time. Many may not even require assistance or training.
Lower fees: By using third-party service providers, ATMs can sometimes impose additional fees on customers. A single withdrawal can cost a user up to $5 per transaction. By contrast, an ITM transaction can cost as little as 50 cents.
Increased security: In the event of card loss or theft, an ITM can scan a user’s ID to verify their identity and enable them to perform cardless transactions. Even if a user does not have an ID, some ITMs use facial scanning technology to confirm their identity.
Physical comfort and safety: Widespread social distancing measures have led many FIs to consider alternative ways of serving their customers and members, without compromising their health, comfort, or abilities. ITMs allow users to conduct transactions in private, on their own schedules, and potentially in locations that are easier to access.
Fewer limitations: If a user wants to perform a complicated transaction at an ATM, they’re usually out of luck. However, at an ITM, customers and members with questions or unique requirements can always access a knowledgeable expert who can guide them through their transaction or connect them to the appropriate service. Providing this “human touch” goes a long way in increasing customer/member satisfaction and brand loyalty.
How To Implement ITM Technology
As with any aspect of updating your branch, only you, your staff, and your customers will be able to say whether ITM technology is the right fit for your institution. Size, brand identity, demographics, customer needs, and growth trajectory will all contribute to the decision. For example, branches in rural communities or those with a high concentration of retirees may not benefit from implementing more self-service solutions, especially if face-to-face interactions are critical to their continued loyalty.
If you’re unsure whether ITM technology is right for your institution — or even if you’re confident in your need — start by deploying a customer/member and employee survey. Use the results to decide how many ITMs to install, and where. Once in place, provide comprehensive training for branch employees so they are comfortable using and troubleshooting the new technology. Make customers aware of these new tools by providing tutorials and extending your branding to the machines and kiosks; you can even utilize dynamic digital signage or video walls to educate your branch visitors about this new offering while they wait for their usual teller.
For more tailored guidance on adding ITMs to your branch offerings, reach out to the Element team today. We’ve helped banks and credit unions across the country install and reap the benefits of ITMs, and we’re always up to speed on the latest technological developments in retail banking.