June 15, 2010

Canada gets video bank machines

By Robin Arnfield, News Editor

Hamilton-based FirstOntario Credit Union has become the first Canadian financial institution to deploy video technology that lets customers speak to remote tellers via an ATM-style kiosk.

FirstOntario’s Personal Assistant Teller (PAT) kiosks are developed by Salt Lake City, Utah-based uGenius Technology (http://www.ugenius.com/). They use live audiovisual streaming technology to connect an on-screen teller with customers who can do much of their personal banking including Canadian cash deposits, withdrawals, cheque cashing, bill payments and Canadian drafts.

FirstOntario’s first branch to offer a PAT kiosk is located in Hamilton. Customer response has been very positive, Kelly McGiffin, FirstOntario’s President and CEO, tells Payments Business.

“We are the first Canadian financial institution to use this technology,” McGiffin tells Payments Business. “Our plan is to deploy PAT kiosks at all our new and refurbished branches.”

Currently, FirstOntario has 17 branches in the Hamilton, Halton, Niagara and Haldimand/Norfolk regions of Ontario. It plans to open two new branches, and all but three or four of its existing branches are expected to be refurbished.

McGiffin says there is a big market opportunity for credit unions in Ontario. Using PAT kiosks, FirstOntario hopes to expand across the province without needing to build a large number of new branches. “PAT really opens up opportunities for us,” he says.

“With PAT, the tellers sit at a central call centre,” uGenius CEO Gene Pranger tells Payments Business. “Financial institutions can use the technology to offer human service for longer hours than a conventional branch does.”

uGenius launched PAT in 2008 and currently has a number of U.S. credit unions using the technology. Its largest deployment is at Coastal Federal Credit Union in Raleigh, North Carolina, which has 50 PAT kiosks.



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