The UAE’s largest lender, Emirates NBD, is preparing to roll out the Gulf’s first interactive teller machines (ITMs) that allow customers to talk with centrally located bank staff via real-time video at any time of the day.
The ITMs will allow customers to conduct about 95 percent of their banking without entering a branch, while replicating face-to-face teller services, managing director for South Gulf and Pakistan of NCR, the company that developed the machines, Habib Hanna said.
“[Customers] interact with an actual teller who can be sitting anywhere,” Hanna said.
“They can see each other but at the same time – and this is a major difference – the teller takes full control of the machine, meaning the teller can initiate transactions on behalf of the consumer.”
That made the technology more friendly for consumers uncomfortable with non-face-to-face banking, such as seniors, Hanna said.
Like ATMs, ITMs do not need to be linked to a branch and are available 24/7, providing more convenience for customers, particularly those in remote areas, to conduct their banking.
The machines also include an ID scanner and a signature pad, making it possible for customers to withdraw more cash than their standard ATM daily limit.
“If a person wants to cash a cheque, instead of going to a branch they can do it at the machine because there’s verification [methods],” Hanna said.
The technology also would help banks to have greater access to customers who rarely visited a branch, he said.
“This is a bridge between the convenience for consumers and the gap of products that you can’t sell except in a branch,” he said.
“[For example] their loan could be about to expire and the teller can tell him ‘by the way, while I’m doing this transaction with you, your loan is about to expire’. That could be turned into an opportunity that turns into a sale for the bank.
“It’s really being a match between what consumers are looking for, which is service and convenience, [and] giving the opportunity for financial operators to be able to serve customers but at the same time create more customer streams. [It could also lead to] operational efficiency for the bank.”
Similar to a call centre, the tellers would be located in a central office and could operate numerous tellers across a wide region.
Hanna denied the technology would lead to a reduction in bank branches and staff and said the cheaper costs meant it was more likely to increase the spread of banks’ presence to new areas, as well as extend operating hours outside traditional teller hours.
Emirates NBD has ordered a collection of the ITMs but has not yet revealed where they will be installed.
General Manager, Retail Banking, Suvo Sarkar, said the machines would provide customers with flexibility and convenience by extending banking hours.
Hundreds of ITMs already have been installed in the US since March 2012.