By Robert McGarvey
Videoconferencing is coming of age at retail banking. This much is made clear via polling by Vidyo, a videoconferencing company, CUNA Strategic Services, and Efma, a consortium of financial institutions. Over 80% of institutions polled said they had deployed, or intended to deploy, videoconferencing—under 10% said they had no intention to do so.
The other stat that jumps out is that about 20% of institutions said they were fully deployed – which means that, at most institutions the idea may be percolating but not yet ready to serve members.
Absolutely, videoconferencing is an important technology for credit unions to investigate. But going slow is the shrewd response. At least for now.
What’s the plus of videoconferencing? Easy: consumers can use the tool to connect with trained experts, often at lower cost for the credit union. That’s win-win. The member gets service, and the credit union saves money.
There doesn’t have to be an IRA expert in every branch, or a mortgage refinance pro. Not when one expert in a central location can be brought via video to members wherever they are.
As in-branch traffic continues to slump, smart credit unions will continue to look for tech savvy ways to deliver what members need—likely with fewer in-branch tellers. At the same time, in-branch traffic is shifting away from the simple transactions that used to be the bulk of activity and into more interactions where a member seeks advice and help.
Video is a big part of the answer to how to deliver quality information and service—at low cost.
Just about everybody likes that.
Big banks, too, are plunging into this. Bank of America, for instance, has video terminals in some 500 branches.
What’s the hold up in deploying more video at more financial institutions? One sticking point: a debate is quietly raging between, on one side, advocates of purpose-built, professional grade video conferencing tools typically deployed in branch and, on the other side, consumer-facing technologies such as Apple’s Facetime, which ships with every iPhone, and Microsoft’s Skype.
The advantage of the latter for consumers is that they probably already know and use the technology,,and, furthermore, they have access to it wherever they go.
So what’s the plus of purpose-built video tools? Mihai Corbuleac, Senior IT Consultant at ComputerSupport.com LLC, said: “The main benefit is that you are in control of the product, and your developers can change or improve it as per the requirement. Implementing your own API (application program interface) will offer you more flexibility, and controlling the development process will give you the opportunity to build useful features designed to simplify your business. Skype or Facetime, even if they are fully-featured, they are definitely not industry focused.”
Add in the fact that consumer technologies just don’t come with the same security that accompany video technologies specifically designed for use in financial institutions.
Don’t assume that this is case-closed, however. Understand this: the video conference space is moving very fast. There is plenty of room for innovation and creativity to produce more useful and engaging tools. Developers, for instance, are working hard on virtual reality video conferencing that will bring a kind of three-dimensional quality to the sessions.
Also in the early stages are tools that will allow a credit union to create a secure conference link with a member, no matter where the member may be. That may unite the benefits of in-branch conferences with the convenience and comfort of home.
A lot of excitement is coming down this pike, and all of it is designed to help credit unions make deeper, more personal connections with their members.
A bottomline: deployed properly, video tools will let smaller credit unions rival bigger competitors in the depth and breadth of the expertise they can offer members.
Keep that in mind. Video will let credit unions maximize the impact of their help and advice.
This is a space savvy credit union executives need to watch. Be ready to move fast when the right technology for your situation emerges.