WESTFIELD, NJ — Robotics and other technology are routinely coming under more scrutiny for their societal impact, and what some see as the next generation in automated banking is coming to Union County.
Interactive teller machines, which are essentially remote-controlled, ATM-like kiosks virtually guided by a banker, will make their appearance in Westfield in early July at a Spencer Savings Bank. The Union County town is the second place to roll out the bank’s new technology.
“It’s like FaceTiming or Skyping with a live person,” Spencer Savings Bank spokeswoman Valerie Gaspard said in a recent interview.
Employees headquartered in Elmwood Park will be doing just that, she said.
Two Spencer Savings Bank professionals will appear on the machine’s screen to communicate and help customers conduct routine transactions, Gaspard said.
With 21 branches throughout the Garden State, Spencer Savings Bank has also introduced the interactive teller machines in Ewing near Trenton.
Following a favorable reception, the bank is now “looking to expand the financial center model to other towns, as opportunities become available,” Anita Guerrero, of Spencer Savings Bank, said in a recent phone interview.
In a press release the bank said it chose to bring the machines to Union County due to Westfield’s “forward-thinking, tech-savvy community.”
Teller-interactive machines are to be used for transactions such as cashing checks, all types of deposits, loan payments and more,” Guerrero said.
From artificial intelligence to mobile banking, the new machine is not the only technology available within the banking industry. In fact, increased automation may reduce the need for banking staff by as much as 30 percent during the next five years, according to Vikram Pandit, the former CEO of Citigroup.
Similarly, Anthony Jenkins, former CEO of Barclays Bank, predicted in an April 18 press release that advances in financial technology could reduce the number of employees by 50 percent in the next 10 years.
John McWeeney, of the New Jersey Bankers Association, agrees with that prediction, but described the phasing out of employees as less severe, calling it a gradual or “natural evolution,” saying, “we will start to see smaller branches with fewer employees,” in an April 19 phone interview with LocalSource.
“Each year, we see the total number of branches have declined slowly but steadily and that trend will continue,” McWeeney said.
Despite the trend, McWeeney disputed the the notion that physical banks and finance professionals will diminish or disappear.
“Over time, I believe the title of bank teller will change to be more along the lines of a universal banker,” he said.
“The universal banker will perform as a teller, but also be trained to take loan applications to offer certain investments, wearing many different hats.”
With regard to physical banks, McWeeney said, “people will always still need face-to-face contact,” but “operations will be much smaller.”
With online and mobile banking decreasing the volume of traffic in banks, “companies will begin to make banks with smaller square footage,” he said.
Despite these advanced changes, McWeeney noted technology has provided positive elements to both banking and customer affairs.
Automation is extremely cost-effective for banks, allowing them to provide the same services at a lower cost, he said. Customers benefit from convenience, speed and longer hours of availability.
The advancement of technology has also led to job creation in social media sectors, he added.