Is it an ATM or isn't it? The personal teller machines installed at Coastal Federal Credit Union look familiar to anyone who has ever withdrawn money from an ATM. But for the Raleigh, NC-based institution, these souped up smart ATMs don't simply dispense cash 24-hours a day; they are actually replacing tellers at branches. "We don't perceive these as ATMs," says Larry Wilson, CEO of Coastal. "These are electronic tellers. It's a technology method of putting member customers in front of an employee without having them at the same location."

The machines have a high-speed, two-way video and audio link to a call center staffed with 14 tellers at the credit union's headquarters. There are no tellers at the four Coastal branches where the personal teller machines (PTMs) are installed. Easily 90 percent of typical teller transactions can be handled at the machines, he says, such as cash dispensing and receiving and check deposits. The PTMs can also scan and verify documents and read signatures. The machines, made by Sandy, UT-based uGenius, improve on older-style remote teller machines that required the teller to be at a specific branch speaking through a phone to a customer.

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