What Facilities Experts Also Foresee

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Look for new technologies (and a few old standbys) to take center stage at credit union branches in 2005.

"I do see technology continuing to grow at credit union branches," said DEI's Ned Compton. "Even as technology is allowing people to do business from the comfort of their own homes, people are still going to branches. We see fingerprint identification, safe deposit boxes and cash machines coming to more branches. Remote teller systems, especially in cities where added security is a concern, will become more popular, and we're going to see more plasma screens or flat screens being used to deliver marketing messages and 'news you can use' that helps create a more active environment."

Credit unions seeking efficiencies will increasingly look to technology to streamline branch operations, noted Tom Lombardo of St. Louis, Mo.-based HBE.

"We're seeing more interest in what we call the private video teller, essentially remote teller systems," he explained. "There is still an issue out there that people see it as too impersonal, that is scares some people. But most times it will work if it's introduced properly. One benefit to point out to members is that it affords them a lot more privacy than the traditional teller line."

But for those members who still really want that face-to-face contact instead of face-to-screen, there's "dialogue banking."

"That's where we build a stand-up tower that allows the member service rep or teller to engage the member in a different format, typically a pod or kiosk instead of the traditional teller line," Lombardo related. "The set-up allows the teller to actually share the screen with the member, so they can both see the transaction. It affords the member more privacy, and it's more interactive and self-contained. We're also putting in cash dispenser units so the cash can be dispensed directly to the member."

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