First there were banking centers in supermarkets.
Next came automated banking centers equipped with video links to a live banker.
Now Mellon Bank Corp. is combining those concepts.
The Pittsburgh-based bank recently unveiled its eighth supermarket-based Mellon Convenience Center. It was the first to offer a two-way video link to a customer service representative.
Mellon said it is the first in the Philadelphia metropolitan market to offer the service. The new video-enabled site, at an Acme Market in suburban Bala Cynwyd, is Mellon's fifth to open in the area since January.
Another supermarket facility opened this past spring in a Giant Eagle supermarket in suburban Pittsburgh. Two more are in operation in New Jersey Acme stores.
The supermarket sites are just the beginning. Mellon plans to install the same video technology throughout its 430-branch retail network by the end of the year, a spokesman said.
A growing number of banks have deployed two-way video technology. People's Bank in Bridgeport, Conn., has equipped all of its 35 automated branches in Stop & Shop markets with two-way video. People's Bank is also installing the technology in its traditional branches, said a spokeswoman.
Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, Ohio, has five video outlets installed in supermarkets. It also has stand-alone branches that include the video technology.
Mellon's full-service supermarket branches are small versions of its traditional branches. The supermarket branches are less costly because they do not have the same space and staffing requirements, said a bank spokesman.
"There is a cost-effectiveness to providing banking services through our convenience centers," he said.
People's, Huntington's, and Mellon's off-site banking centers offer a full range of services through souped up automated teller machines that can provide everything from images of a customer's cashed checks to postage stamps.
The video feature links a customer directly to a remote customer service center, where representatives are available to answer questions and handle transactions for a variety of brokerage, mortgage, and other specialized products and services.