This is your ATM speaking: Fubon Bank rolls out virtual teller ATMs across its Hong Kong branches

The Taiwanese bank is leading the push for videoconferencing-enabled ‘virtual teller’ ATM machines

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 8:36pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 9:55pm

Plans to upgrade the automated teller machine network in Hong Kong could accelerate on the back of Fubon Bank’s aggressive rollout of advanced videoconferencing-enabled devices from NCR, the world’s largest supplier of ATMs.

That deployment could spur growth in the city’s ATM market, which has contracted for three consecutive years after reaching a peak in 2012.

Research firm RBR said Hong Kong’s population of ATMs shrunk to 3,322 last year, down from 3,398 in 2013.

RBR said high site rental and operational costs, as well low transaction volumes, have been cited as reasons banks are doing a strategic re-evaluation of their branch networks.

Fubon Bank, a subsidiary of Taiwan’s Fubon Financial Holding, will open the second NCR Interactive Teller installation in the city at its Western district branch on Monday, following the recent initial deployment at its Queen’s Road East branch in Wan Chai.

Carmen Yip, Hong Kong-based Fubon’s executive vice-president and head of retail banking business, said she expected the other banks in the city to take heed of this innovation amid stiff competition in the market.

“I believe this [technology] will be the talk of the town after our grand opening on Monday,” Yip said, noting more installations are planned across Fubon’s local branch network. “It doesn’t take a lot of time for customers to learn how to use these machines.”

Standard Chartered was the first bank in Hong Kong to deploy the virtual teller machines in October last year, with Chinese manufacturer GRG Banking as its supplier.

The GRG devices, however, were mainly set up at the flagship Wealth Management Centre of Standard Chartered in Central.

Like those virtual teller machines, the new NCR systems at Fubon can take over many of the transactions handled by regular branch tellers, including cash withdrawal and deposit. A live teller located at Fubon’s customer service centre in North Point takes controls of the NCR virtual teller machine and interacts with customers through the video-conferencing screen.

Customers can withdraw money from their accounts without a traditional ATM card and password. In addition, customers can communicate with the remote human operator using the machine’s handset.

“Branch space is precious in Hong Kong. Our interactive teller allows banks to transform their branch locations into more effective service and sales environments,” said Keith Au, NCR’s general manager for financial services in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Au said NCR, which had a 79 per cent share of ATM sales in Hong Kong last year, hoped to sign up three to four more banks next year to adopt its virtual teller machines, which cost more than traditional ATMs.

Fubon senior vice-president Murine Tsien said the bank’s deployment of virtual teller machines “marks the first step in our branch network development”.

Tsien said new software to be delivered by NCR next year will enable Fubon to start converting its other ATMs into virtual teller machines and switch the new devices into traditional cash machines when no remote teller is present.