NCR had already forged a tight partnership with uGenius, which provides the software used in NCR's APTRA Interactive Teller, a video-enabled ATM, and had made an equity investment in the company at the beginning of last year.
The acquisition will also give NCR the opportunity to sell other uGenius products such as its SmartOffice banking services sales software and Online Video Banking system. The acquisition of the privately held uGenius, for an undisclosed price, was completed on December 31 and announced Thursday.
"We thought the timing was right for a number of reasons," said Brian Bailey, VP and general manager of branch transformation at NCR. "For one thing, we're seeing such incredible demand from our customers in North America. There are certain things we bring to the table in terms of being able to invest more in the solution. The other part where we see the timing is right is internationally, where there is a lot of market interest from Europe and Russia from banks that would like to achieve greater geographical distribution without staffing additional branches."
Bank customers generally welcome the introduction of the technology when it is used to offer them additional conveniences such as extended hours or more locations where they can access banking services, Bailey said. "We've been impressed by consumers' thirst for the technology and willingness to adopt and use it."
After initially producing its own hardware as well as software, uGenius was increasingly partnering with NCR for access to hardware such as drive-through ATM terminals that provide the same range of video-enabled services. Our sister publication Banking Systems and Technology featured uGenius as part of a case study on video banking at Maine's Five County Credit Union.
Walk into any of Coastal Federal Credit Union's branches in North Carolina, and you won't find a single on site teller. Branches are still staffed by personnel who handle account openings and loans, but all the routine deposits, withdrawals and transfers are handled by either fully automated ATM transactions or remote interactions with a teller in a call center who can operate the machine remotely.
[ Looking for something? Read Social Media Search: How To Find It.]
NCR's video ATMs let customers interact with a remote teller, see data such as scanned checks.
"It's certainly been well received," said Willard Ross, SVP of retail banking at Coastal Federal. "Our Net Promoter and customer loyalty scores are really high, and rising. Of course, if we had put out survey or customer focus group with members and tried to describe this, probably 9 out of 10 would have said they had no interest in it. With a new technology like this, we had to go on faith, a bit."
The remote tellers can answer questions and conduct more complicated transactions, such as cashing a check, depositing a portion of it, applying another portion toward a loan and giving the customer the remainder as cash back. The video connection between customer and teller helps preserve the sense that "it's still personal service," Ross said.