By Ed McLaughlin
Editor's Note: This story was published by RemoteDepositCapture.com Nov. 5, 2010; reprinted with permission. © 2010 RemoteDepositCapture.com. All rights reserved.
BAI 2010 clearly demonstrated a renewed focus. The conference tracks were exciting, informative and focused on retail banking and, as one keynote speaker stated, on the "customer." The tracks - Marketing, Selling, Product Management and Innovation - reflected different positions, approaches and strategies for banking in the 21st century.
The focus on improving customer satisfaction, including the remote (primarily mobile) banking experience, was present in all sessions I attended, and followed three overriding themes: branch innovation, mobile connectivity and banks' ability to meet customer expectations across generations and across channels.
The changing behavior of bank customers is directly related to the ubiquity of mobile technology and the ever present mobile phone. The popularity of social networks, mobile connectivity and the desire to be able to do banking - and to make payments when, where and how - was examined from the bank perspective in the branch and from the customer perspective in and outside the branch.
Several sessions focused on the use of e-analytics to facilitate better understanding of customer demographics and behavior patterns, thus allowing banks to develop a multichannel approach to meeting the needs of a multigenerational customer base. One intriguing example was the potential for customers to do banking via Facebook accounts.
Sessions covered a spectrum of areas banks need to address, including the segmentation of retail and business customers, use of social networking tools and cross-selling tools, and awareness and training of front-line staff to better understand customers' needs.
The objective was to offer a similar user experience across all channels to make it easier for customers to take advantage of online, mobile, ATM and kiosk connections.
The branch of the future: With or without the teller
It was interesting to observe, both in sessions and on the exhibit floor, the interest in teller systems and in teller image capture - all in the context of looking at the branch of the future.
First, will there still be branches in the future? Then, if branch networks will persist, will tellers staff them, or will they be teller-less? The role and functions of tellers were generally divided into three categories: transaction processing, customer service and selling of bank products and services.
Transaction processing - cashing checks, managing deposits, making loan payments, etc. - are low-value operations that, if automated, allow tellers to service customers better and provide time for cross-selling other bank products. In the exhibit hall, systems and solutions were demonstrated that would meet these needs.
This year was dubbed the "year of the teller" (teller image capture). It acknowledges that tellers, by handling complete transactions for customers, improve the quality of both service and the branch experience, thus providing justification for improving the tools available to tellers.
Tools include business process automation, image capture, and cash recyclers or dispensers. Teller systems themselves are going through a refresh to update appearance and functionality, complete with better, more comprehensive user interfaces and prompts.
The counterpoint to this is the teller-less branch, where customers who come to the branch will conduct all of their business at kiosks. If they want to make deposits, cash checks or make loan payments, the kiosks will handle all those functions.
One demonstration by uGenius was a variation on this theme: the kiosk included connectivity with video via the network to a teller at a central hub available to help customers process transactions. To complement this, Cisco demonstrated high-definition interactive video conferencing solutions that added a dimension currently missing at the drive-through teller. Image quality was so high, it looked like the teller was right there.
Will we see teller-less branches in the United States? The consensus of people I talked to was no, but a middle ground will endeavor to take advantage of technology to improve the customer experience and the productivity of teller transactions.
The most exciting sessions and discussions at the conference were around mobile connectivity and the use of social networking tools in banking. The use of these, as described in the sessions, can help banks to better know their customers and connect with them in ways customers choose to connect.
A multigenerational approach includes addressing the needs of gen Y, gen X and millennials, many of whom have never written a check. Yes, they have checking accounts, but they use electronic bill pay. The DDA account was also identified as the "stickiest" relationship a bank has with its customers.
Mobile connectivity is a tool for banks to be more engaged with their customers through all of its forms: SMS for alerts, inquiries into the bank for balances, etc.; applications for mobile deposit and P2P; and web browser interface for a variety of informational services.
Winning "Best of Show" were mobile deposit for Mitek and USAA, and Bluepoint (also using Mitek) for credit unions. P2P mobile solutions are another way for banks to meet customers' needs, and services are being offered by multiple solutions providers to banks for inclusion in their service offerings.
Those in the conference spotlight included PayPal (FIS), iPay (Jack Henry), ZashPay (Fiserv), Obopay, and CashEdge (Pop Money) - to name a few. The PayPal offering also included the capability to do mobile deposit through its partner BankServ.
Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) in all forms was on display on the show floor. RDC is the enabling technology showcased in mobile deposit (for consumers and businesses), teller image capture, and in the image ATM solutions.
The exhibit hall included a range of technology providers. Branch automation tools, in addition to teller capture, included ATMs that provided the transaction services for the customer and business process tools and document automation for account setup and loan applications.
A notable ATM/kiosk solution I saw was not in a booth but in a meeting room. The NCR next generation ATM is exciting. The ATM is able to take an envelope-less deposit of both checks and cash in a mixed deposit. The speed was impressive, as was the user interface.
The items are inserted in any order, and they do not have to be all face up or face down. The intelligence within the unit can interpret the items, OCR them, sort them, display the items as they were being processed and deliver the results on the display screen.
If a check cannot be read or if an amount needs to be verified, the customer is asked to complete the information required, and if an item cannot be resolved, it is returned to the customer - just the item, not the whole deposit. The scanners on display to support teller capture were just as impressive.
Scanner manufacturers' understanding of the need to supply a check scanner with the receipt printer built in, in a compact, easy-to-use device, reflects the research manufacturers are doing to support this growing market. Panini introduced a modular system where the bank can purchase the scanner and add on the receipt printer, a smart card reader and a document scanner in a single package.
Digital Check, Burroughs, and CTS showed their entries into the teller scanners market, each with receipt printers built in. These companies join Epson and Cannon in the teller scanner/receipt printer market.
Mobile deposit was demonstrated on the show floor as a standalone application with a downloadable app for multiple smart phones (iPhone, Droid, Windows and BlackBerry) and as an integrated solution with various mobile banking platforms (mFoundry, Clairmail, Sybase) again with downloadable apps.
Solution providers like Fiserv, FIS, Wausau, Cachet, ProfitStars, VSoft and Open Solutions were showing mobile capture on the exhibit hall floor. One component these solution providers offer with their mobile deposit offerings includes comprehensive risk management and risk mitigation tools.
Teller systems from Wausau (their branch without walls booth added a signature pad on the Apple iPad), FIS, Fiserv, Alogent (it's good to see that name back along with their systems), Bluepoint, Open Solutions and Argo were among the systems and solutions that I was fortunate enough to see in action.
The conference sessions covered many areas for consideration by banks for branch automation. The exhibit hall was a reflection of the sessions addressing many of the items being covered by the session presentations. I would have to say, this was the year for both the "teller" and "mobile connectivity."
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