Kiosks Add Self-Service To Shared Branching

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Kiosks are the next generation of self-service devices for members of credit unions or other financial institutions, according to two representatives from a company that makes software for financial networks.

"Self-service shared branches are coming to a neighborhood near you very, very soon," James Ballagh told attendees of the recent Financial Service Centers Cooperative (FSCC) annual conference here.

Ballagh, the vice president of business development, and Rich Klein, vice president of technology, said their firm, San Mateo, Calif.-based Ensenta, has worked closely with FSCC since 2002. The two said kiosks have capabilities far beyond automated teller machines, which will allow credit unions that participate in a shared branching network such as FSCC to offer inexpensive service to their own members, as well as shared branching "guest members."

"The question I always get is: 'Are members going to make deposits at a self-service kiosk?' The answer is 'yes,'" said Ballagh. "About 28% of transactions at kiosks are deposits or payments, while withdrawals and advances are 56%."

One reason why members are willing to transact at a kiosk is the "trust factor," he continued. When members make a deposit, they see the image of the check on the screen, and get a receipt with an image of the check.

In addition to deposits and withdrawals, members can use a kiosk to check account balances and history, make transfers between accounts, reorder checks, stop payment on a check, and more.

The benefit for the CU is cost savings, said Ballagh. "Smart" kiosks contain an advanced processor, a hard drive, check scanners and the ability to communicate with the home financial institution via the Internet. The machine generates electronic cash letters that allow credit unions to avoid daily check sweeps.

"What we have done is take a transaction-an off-premise ATM deposit-that costs about $5 and made it cost just pennies," declared Ballagh.

Klein said Ensenta's software handles many of the functions a teller does when a member deposits a check at a branch. It can confirm and verify details of the check, including a missing endorsement or a stale- or post-dated document.

"The key thing is, the credit union doesn't have to worry about it, we take care of everything for them," said Klein. "Member education and promotion are critical-credit unions need to let their members know a kiosk is not an ATM, it is a shared branch."

Ensenta has several partners, including WesCorp, which handles image cash letter processing, he added.

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