With Most Glitches Resolved, Video-Tellers Become Common Technology

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Video tellers aren't just used for kicks by billion-dollar, high-tech credit unions.

Take $120-million TEG Federal CU, which in two weeks will open up a new branch with three Remote Teller Systems (RTS)-and just one walk-up teller, said Joan Zazzaro, IT manager at TEG.

The nation's CUs now see remote teller systems (RTS) as part of the compulsory package of automated delivery channels, along with ATMs and drive-up vacuum tubes, according to Dan MacIntyre, senior product manager of Physical Security Products at Diebold, Inc., the self-service systems provider based in North Canton, Ohio.

"We have hundreds of credit unions using the Diebold RemoteTeller System," MacIntyre said.

"RTS became part of the branch design as a way of servicing members," concurred David Carder, CEO of ComCo Systems, Inc., a pneumatic tube and audio-video conferencing systems provider in Lake Dallas, Texas. ComCo's business doubled this year and tripled in 2003, he said.

Credit unions have taken to RTS even more so than banks, Carder added.

"The video tellers at TEG Federal save on staffing," explained Zazzaro. "You can have one teller work two or three stations, and the member is not even going to know that there's only one teller in the back."

Both $225-million Florida CU in Gainesville and $213-million Erie Schools Employees FCU in Erie, Penn., reported at least a 50% reduction in teller labor as a result of Diebold RTS applications.

Members simply walk up to a kiosk with a video screen in the branch, pick up an attached telephone and a live teller automatically appears on the two-way television screen, said Zazzaro. Paper, including cash, checks or receipts, is pushed through vacuum tubes, much like in drive-through lanes.

"It's pretty cool," Zazzaro added, referring to the credit union's beta-test of the concept. "Members seem to like it. At first members can be a little uncomfortable, so we greet them at the door and hold their hands a little bit. But really it's no different than being in front of a teller."

Meanwhile, tellers are stationed behind-the-screens, tackling multiple transactions simultaneously. Just one TEG teller will run the three RTS stations at the credit union's new branch, Zazzaro said. During peak hours, the CU will schedule two tellers, she said.

Possibly the ultimate in "personal touch" automation, video tellers allow credit unions and their members to take advantage of technology by delivering advanced security and reduced transaction times, while keeping a human face on the interaction.

In fact, many credit unions have built full-blown tellerless lobbies. ASI Federal, a $200-million CU in West Wego, La., has 12 ComCo Systems remote teller stations-and no walk-up tellers.

TEG FCU wasn't ready to move tellers out of the lobby entirely, said Zazzaro. "We have a sit-down member services desk. If someone is uncomfortable with the RTS, then the member could sit down and perform transactions in front of a teller."

RTS offers increased security by separating tellers from the public. Two years ago, Purdue Employees FCU told The Credit Union Journal how its new remote tellers could process night deposits and check tapes and dispense cash-without public scrutiny.

Video technology has long complemented credit union drive-through lanes, as well. The Credit Union Journal reported one year ago how Call FCU used RTS technology to solve the unique challenges of operating three separate drive-through services out of one back office as part of Richmond, Virginia's Credit Union Mall.

Video teller systems haven't always earned kudos from credit unions-First Tech CU first implemented the then-infant technology in 1999. Cameras broke, touch screens croaked, and ISDN lines for video gave out, according to Mike Scheuerman, former business technology officer for the $1-billion, Beaverton, Ore.-based CU.

Now that the technology has matured, RTS has made its way into the delivery culture at many CUs. "The video teller was a lot more expensive than building a teller counter with a lockbox, but in the long run it pays off big time," Zazzaro said.

CUJ Resources

For more info on this story: TEG FCU at www.tegfcu.org

* ComCo Systems at www.comcosystems.com

* Diebold at www.diebold.com

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