MORRISVILLE, N.C.-Advancements in interactive video software, a service perhaps first introduced by the now antiquated Max Headroom, are gaining momentum at credit unions across the nation.
With members able to access virtual tellers with a touch of a screen, the way in which transactions occur is veering from convention.
"Video-teller machines function in the same manner as traditional branches because members are able to interact live and face-to-face with tellers, except through a video screen," wrote NAFCU President Fred Becker in a June support letter to NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz. "Virtual tellers execute identical tasks as they would in person, from authorizing transactions and reviewing check images to dispensing cash. In addition, these machines operate on a regularly scheduled weekly basis, some 24-7/365, beyond that of a traditional brick-and-mortar branch."
Among companies in this space offering application and PTM oversight is the Morrisville, N.C.-based BlueStripe Software. The company's FactFinder Transaction Monitoring solution, which ensures the availability and performance IT operating systems, recently caught the eye of Coastal Federal Credit Union.
Coastal FCU is now open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days per week, using video tellers across its branch network.
"PTM has been well-received by Coastal's members since it allows the credit union to offer increased teller hours while keeping costs down," said Chris Whitesock, IT director for Raleigh, N.C.-based FCU. "FactFinder has become the go-to tool within Coastal IT Operations to identify and fix problems quickly. We're also using FactFinder's proactive alerting to monitor critical switch points so the operations team can fix issues before customers have problems."
While BlueStripe has worked with many financial clients, including Bank of America, the company's Cofounder and CEO, Chris Neal, noted that Coastal FCU is the first client in the credit union space. Neal added that "the innovative PTM system was originally developed by Coastal in partnership with Ugenius."
Neal explained that FactFinder Transaction Monitoring solution was designed to automatically discover, map and monitor all business transactions running across an infrastructure. As part of this process, the software measures performance "hop-by-hop" everywhere a transaction transpires. This includes across tiers, across platforms and across architectures, such as virtual machines, private cloud and third party services.
"Since everything FactFinder users do revolves around the maps, it makes the tool easy to learn and master," said Whitesock. "Pre-built reports for triage and benchmarking make it easier to send FactFinder information to other IT teams. BlueStripe's training team has also helped get new users comfortable with the tool quickly."
As Becker pointed out in his support letter to NCUA regarding video tellers, video-teller machines could ultimately serve to reduce branch operating costs and increase sales by "allowing branch employees to focus on selling loans, mortgages and other products," he continued. "These machines can reduce a credit union's real-estate costs because they take up far less room than a row of teller windows. Further, they decrease the risk of exposure of tellers to criminal activity."
While the aforementioned points are viewed as positives by most C-level executives and IT department heads, concerns include PTM downtime due to systems failure.
"PTM rarely has outages, achieving its goals of 98% availability, but with FactFinder's proactive monitoring, PTM has had its best year ever," said Whitesock.
Added Neal, "If PTM ever had problems, Coastal has back-up plans for helping members at the branches complete transactions. Behind the scenes in the data center, FactFinder gives the operations team the information they need to resolve the PTM issue as quickly as possible."
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