At any given moment, hundreds of millions of people around the world are glued to their mobile devices watching a Netflix episode or a YouTube clip. Online video is on fire. It’s the medium of the moment, and for the foreseeable future.
What about video banking? Survey data, fresh technologies , and the experiences of early adopters suggest it’s about to take off. An Efma study, for example, found that two-thirds of banks and credit unions are either deploying (11%), piloting (21%), or planning to deploy (28%) remote video banking capabilities. Clearly video will be playing a major role in the future of video banking.
The earliest video banking initiatives mostly involved interactive teller machines (ITMs). These are essentially ATMs with a video connection to a live person, and are used in-branch or at drive-throughs. Video kiosks are another, lower-cost variation used in-branch. Mobile video banking apps arrived on the scene more recently.
As early as 2012, The Financial Brand has said (again and again) that all roads in the video space will ultimately lead to mobile. Nevertheless, forerunners have played an important part, laying the foundation for where the industry needs to go. In-branch video has proven a viable delivery channel, teaching many financial institutions what it takes to make video work in a banking context. And the predecessors of mobile video banking — ITMs and in-branch video conferencing — have helped accustom consumers to the very idea of banking by video.
Consider this: the video banking product used in BluCurrent Credit Union branches is getting user satisfaction scores of 4.83 out of 5. Now the Missouri-based institution is preparing to launch a mobile video application in partnership with Vidyo and Invo Solutions, a move that might not have been on their radar if their in-branch kiosks weren’t humming along.
BluCurrent EVP Gary Kirk says video transactions for the most recent six-month period totaled 4,000. The credit union has assets of $185 million, about 22,000 members, and three banking locations, so that volume is not insignificant.
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‘Cool’ Kiosks Cut Branch Staff By a Third
The key benefit from BluCurrent’s five-year-old video banking program, according to Kirk, is that the credit union was able to change a key ratio for some branch employees. It centralized those employees who have the know-how to open accounts, originate mortgages, or make other loans. Now, one of these “experts” — via video connection from the credit union’s contact center to the branch kiosks — can serve three “desks” across the branch network. Before video, says Kirk, there were expert employees at each branch sitting there in anticipation of a consumer coming in to open an account, apply for a loan, etc.
The change, says Kirk, allowed the credit union to reduce staffing levels in that job category by two-thirds and reallocate resources to create a more robust call center and mortgage department.
But why would someone take the trouble to visit a branch to use video and not meet face-to-face with a person? Shorter wait times, says BluCurrent COO Derek Williams. Prior to the video banking service, members would have had to wait 15 to 30 minutes on average to speak with a product expert. With video, people are typically served in under two minutes.
Williams adds that members’ response after using the video kiosk for the first time often is, “This is cool! When can we do it from home?” The answer now is: “Soon.”
BluCurrent firmly believes its use of in-branch video has paved the way for a successful rollout of mobile video because both members and employees have become comfortable with the concept and the technology. The experience of Idaho-based Pioneer Federal Credit Union echoes these sentiments, and provides insights for credit unions and banks planning to implement mobile video banking.
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Two Unexpected User Groups for Remote Video Banking
The biggest surprises for Tracey Miller, six months into the rollout of their mobile video banking initiative, is the pace with which members have embraced the app. And who the users are.
“The elderly love mobile video banking. It gives them back some of their independence.”
— Tracey Miller, Pioneer FCU
Miller, VP of Branch Operations for Pioneer Federal Credit Union ($450 million in assets), initially expected members in remote locations to be the predominant users. Pioneer has many service men and women among its 50,000 members, and when they receive a transfer from a local base or are on deployment, the video banking app allows them to connect with Pioneer employees to take out a loan, replace a lost debit card, or anything else other than get cash as an option to doing it on their on the credit union’s website.
While remote transactions have certainly been part of the mobile video user mix, the biggest usage has come from local members — two segments in particular: adults with children and the elderly.
“If the kids are out playing,” says Miller, “the parents don’t have to leave home to take care of banking.” And they don’t have to bring the children to the branch “where they would have to keep them amused, or fret about them running around the building while they speak with someone.” Mobile video banking is much more convenient for them, she says.
With the elderly, the mobile video banking app has proven popular, says Miller, because it “gives them back some of their independence by not having to rely on family members to take them to the branch.” And yet, with the live video, they still have a chance to visit with employees.
There is another group that likes the mobile video app, says Miller: Spanish-speaking consumers.
“They aren’t always sure a bilingual employee will be available at a branch,” Miller notes. However, there are more bilingual staffers available at the video banking center.
“The app just fits into a lot of people’s lives,” says Miller.
Video Banking Growth ‘Hasn’t Slowed Yet’
After doing an internal launch to acclimate employees, work out operational bugs, and identify training needs, Pioneer did a public soft launch of its mobile video banking app, “My Pioneer Personal Assistant.” This was done strictly using word-of-mouth marketing by employees, encouraging members to download the app. The credit union logged 104 video interactions in its first month. Since then, Miller notes, it has been adding more than 100 interactions every month.
“We haven’t slowed yet, “she says.
That’s in addition to the extensive use Pioneer gets with its 18 NCR interactive teller machines situated at drive-through locations. The ITMs handled 86,000 transactions in 2017, says Miller, and should hit 100,000 in 2018. These video drive-through units have delivered significant benefits in terms of branch staffing and even cold-weather reliability, but they weren’t intended for more complex transactions.
“We didn’t really want people submitting a loan application while sitting in their car,” says Miller.
Similar to BluCurrent, Pioneer’s experience with in-branch video and ITMs prompted the credit union to seek out a mobile video solution. It selected a product created by POPin Video Banking. The app has split-screen capability enabling members to see and speak with a representative and also enter data, scan documents, and sign with an e-signature.
Fraud reduction is a secondary benefit of these digital workflow capabilities, particularly with wire transfers. “We need to know that the person asking for a wire to be sent truly is our member,” Miller explains. “With mobile video we can identify the person visually and can capture and verify their drivers license.”
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Video Banking Challenges and Benefits Staff
It’s not always easy to tell which employees — including call center employees — will be a good fit as video bankers.
“We found that our assumptions didn’t always prove correct,” Gary Kirk admits. “Sometimes a typically reserved person really comes to life when the camera comes on.” Overall, both BluCurrent and Pioneer have found some staffers better suited to video and some to phone.
Both credit unions operate video banking out of their contact center, and both use separate teams for phone and video transactions. BluCurrent cross-trains people where possible but doesn’t insist on it because not everyone can do both channels well. Derek Williams says they expect to have to add people once mobile and online video comes on stream.
Miller says that Pioneer did have to add staff to accommodate the addition of mobile video banking. The credit union now has 11 people handling both ITM and mobile video interactions. Other call center staff handle phone calls and live chat from members doing online banking.
Williams says that BluCurrent employees have come to see “video banking representative” as a desired position.
“These people become experts in high-value transactions and can earn more through cross-selling,” he explains. “It gives them a well-rounded exposure and can be a launching pad to a management position.”
Overall, Williams sees video as a more convenient way for consumers to connect with a financial institution’s staff — while retaining the relational component.