First it was tellerless banking (ever heard of that?), and before Kenyan banks could deploy tellerless branches, we are moving into teller machines with video conferencing capabilities.
The two concepts of banking imply that banks should think twice before investing in new manned branches across the country. Standard Chartered bank has launched the first ever tellerless banking at the Nakumatt Junction branch, Nairobi. Well, it took quite some time for a Kenyan bank in the country to launch a tellerless branch, a concept that that has been in existence for over 25 years. This means that at the time Kenyans are set to experience the beauty of tellerless banking, banks in other parts of the world are already a step ahead given the recent invention of ATMs that can act as a bridge between customers and human tellers through video enabled chats dubbed Teller Assist ATMs.
NBC News on how TAAs work
What does tellerness banking do? It is basically operating a bank branch whose tellers are ATMs, PCs, laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones. These technology gadgets enable customers to access their accounts via online banking and mobile banking platforms. The advantage of such a branch is savings on labour cost and the payoff the customer gains from speed and “feel good” offered by use of technology. Although the setup cost for such a branch is a little bit higher compared to normal branches, the running cost over a period is significantly minimal. This then means that serious banks should consider setting up as many as tellerless branches in towns (high speed internet is a requirement) within the country for better service delivery and cost savings in the long run.
An important setback in tellerless banking is the need for the presence of human assistance for some critical services. This has been solved by setting up manned branches in a few areas within the cities that have a significant number of tellerless branches. However, this problem can now be solved thanks to the introduction of the new ATMs that offer human assistance through video link capability . A customer will use the ATM as usual for withdrawals and deposits but if there is the need for human assistance, s/he will be able to get assistance from a remote human teller who will appear on the ATM’s screen to offer the desired critical service. The ATM is also fitted with scanners that the remote human teller will use to verify the identity of the customer before carrying out the critical services on behalf of the customer at the other end. All transactions will however be terminated at the ATM.
What this implies is that all banks can change all their manned branches to tellerless branches (with ability for remote human assistance) and all ATM points can be upgraded to tellerless branches also with capacity to offer remote human assistance. The remote human tellers can be stationed at a central location but be able to offer services across all the bank branches.
Both concepts when implemented means as many branches can be opened across the country hence deeper penetration of banking services and banks can therefore spearhead the operations of a 24/7 hour economy at a reduced operation costs compared to the current state of operating at an average of 8 hours a day for six days.
As with full implementation of any technology, improvement in efficiency and operations that lead to reduction in running costs means fighting the labour forces (unions) that will resist technology breakthroughs. What I do look forward to, though, is the day when queues will be eliminated entirely in the banking sector.