Video conferencing is slowly emerging in the retail banking sector as a way to meet growing customer expectations and combat declining foot traffic in branch locations. There are so many things customers can now do online that they don’t even need to go to a bank. Checking account balances, transferring money between accounts and even paying bills can be done with a few simple clicks on a bank’s website.

As a result, banks need to find new ways to interact with their customers. International financial research and consulting firm, Celent, recently released the report Video Banking: Lights, Camera, Transactions?, discussing how video solutions can be used along with the benefits they provide.

The most practical application is connecting customers to bank tellers and subject matter experts via video at lobbies, vestibules and even at home. Customers can ask questions about their finances, consult with a financial advisor or begin the loan application process with an online advisor. For example, instead of driving to the bank to fill out a mortgage application, a customer can meet face-to-face over video with a loan specialist who can answer questions and begin the application process.

Video banking not only provides increased customer interaction, it can provide significant cost benefit as well. Customers expect a lot from their banks and video conferencing allows banks to keep up with customer demand while reducing expensive branch investments. They can use video solutions to maintain strong customer relationships without having to staff subject matter experts at each retail location.

The Bank of Montreal has implemented Cisco videoconferencing workstations to serve as a customer assistance tool rather than a “do-it-yourself” system. The technology still has a few issues, but they are being worked out. For example, in some instances a customer may require paperwork and paper cannot be transferred through this system. However, the digital teller can help the customer obtain the necessary paperwork and provide instructions as to where it needs to be delivered.

Bank of America had a different idea for the technology and implemented ATM with Teller Assist. This allows customers to experience the convenience of an ATM but still be able to speak to a Bank of America teller in real time via video. These ATMs allow customers to cash checks for the exact amount and receive change, as well as receive cash withdrawals. Eventually, the ATM will allow customers to deposit checks with cash back, split a deposit into two or more accounts and make a credit card or loan payment. With the probable success of these implemented technologies, it won’t be long before other banks begin the process of changing to video banking.

These are just two examples of how banks are using video. Several other establishments have either deployed video solutions or are currently testing the viability. Eventually as technology advances, users will be able to take video banking mobile, and use video conferencing to talk to tellers and bankers through tablets and mobile devices. By using apps, texting, voice conversations and two-way video, banking can eventually go completely virtual. In fact, we might look back one day and say I remember when you actually had to go to the bank to cash a check!