Video Banking Soon to Enter Homes in the U.K.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / AndreyPopovVideo banking — customers talking via video feed to bankers who may be far away — is already a big thing in branches in Britain, and it’s about to get bigger. It will soon to be tested for users at … home.

Nationwide Building Society, a member-owned financial institution with around $290 billion in assets, piloted video banking for mortgages and loans through a service called Nationwide NOW in six branches in late 2014, and by the end of 2015, had rolled it out to 400 of its 700 branches.

“We will have it in virtually all of them in the next few years,” said Mark Goldman, divisional director for the building society, which is far and away the U.K.’s largest.

For the branch experience, users book appointments by phone or drop in (online appointment-booking is not yet available) and are shown to a special room set aside for video conferencing. Customers then chat via a high-definition video link over Cisco hardware to a remote expert on mortgages, credit cards, or other products. Users can be done with the entire onboarding process in a matter of minutes, Goldman said, and satisfaction rates are in the “high 90s.”

More than 30,000 Nationwide customer have been helped by the process already, and far from costing jobs, has added 230 new positions to the company. Nationwide is committed to bricks and mortar, Goldman said, and has found that even its digital penetration fades out as users become farther away from the branch.

But the next step, naturally, is bringing branch-like services to internet-connected devices in users’ homes. This is a more difficult proposition, Goldman said, because “in the branch we can control the environment.” Nationwide even performs a small trick where video bankers ask the customer if she would like a cup of tea, then signals her preference to a branch employee.

Such niceties will, of course, be impossible in a user’s home, but more worrisome than that is the quality of the internet connection. Not every home has the same quality broadband, or 4G coverage. Goldman indicated the bank was considering building an app, and also considering whether one-way video might be the best solution, so the banker may not see the customer.

“It’s on the drawing board; our IT architects are working on it,” Goldman said of in-home video banking. “We want to test it this year.”

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