It was 2001 and Gene Pranger was seriously fiddling with video banking. ATMs were in the midst of a big upgrade cycle. Pranger’s firm, uGenius, combined software and hardware that turned ATMs into video-enabled machines so customers could chat with a bank representative upon request. Tellers, centralized in a video call center, could, in turn, activate teller-driven activities at a local machine, including dispensing cash.
The Utah-based entrepreneur eventually sold his business to NCR in 2013 and today’s NCR Interactive Teller machines incorporate Pranger’s video banking technology. It’s been a slow, but gradual process. 16 years later and the ATM is still in the early throes of becoming an ITM, or Interactive Teller Machine, enabling banks to lower the costs of maintaining a large network of local branches.
And Pranger, whose eyes still light up when he starts talking about the potential of video banking, may have sold his company but he hasn’t shaken the video banking bug. Financial Town, Pranger’s new firm, takes off where uGenius left off. Its flagship product, BankOn, is a video banking solution designed for mobile.
Like video ATMs, mobile video banking will be slow to roll out. “What’s happening with mobile video has been similar to the incubation period of 2001-2007 for ATM video,” said Pranger. “It’s taken time for the technology to catch up and really, it’s only become stable in the last two years.”
Mobile video solutions abound but what makes BankOn different is that it was designed for the workflow of bank tellers. The platform hooks into the automatic call distribution systems banks employ. It also has a user portal for support reps, so that a financial institution’s administration can monitor what’s going on. Reports can be generated into a firm’s CRM system, as well.
But what’s really different than Skype or FaceTime is BankOn’s media exchange within the app. For example, a teller working with a customer on a mortgage application can push a signature panel through to be signed by the user directly within the app. So, beyond customer service, customers can open up new accounts, sign documents, scan identification documents, and apply for loans directly through the BankOn app as they’re chatting with a teller.
“This is good news for consumers,” Pranger explained during a video chat on the BankOn app. “Now bank service staff can appear and resolve problems at a customer’s moment of need. That’s also great if you’re a sales guy at a bank and want to react and close quickly.”
According to a research report from banking association Efma and video collaboration technology maker Vidyo, 10 percent of banks expected to use video for banking services in 2016. That number is expected to rise to 50 percent by the end of 2017 and 80 percent by the end of 2018. Pranger wants a piece of it.
While BankOn’s initial product is optimized to service customers outside a bank branch, Pranger’s firm has an in-branch product in the works as part of its 2017 pipeline. This multi-channel version of video chat is intended to make the branch experience better by presenting things in a different way to clients when they’re standing inside their bank. That’s important because, while early adopters have migrated to mobile banking solutions, Bain Consulting recently found that nearly 90% of U.S. banking customers still visited a teller during the previous quarter, and nearly half called their bank.
“We have to start by changing behavior in the branch and then migrate people to start using other channels,” Pranger said. “We have to make it the best possible experience.”
It’s still early days for mobile video banking. BankOn currently has four clients in beta mode, taking a lot of time to test. Pranger said he plans a larger rollout during 2017 by setting up reseller and distributorship agreements with partners. If he’s right again, you’ll soon start to see more video banking options inside and outside your local branches.