Videoconferencing in Retail Banking: Is BMO’s move a Harbinger for More to Come?

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20 January 2012
Bob Meara
This week, BMO announced its rollout of Cisco Tandberg desktop video conferencing terminals to 50 of its 1,600 branches in the US and Canada. The terminals are for use by the bank’s financial planners and small business specialists. The idea is simple: more efficiently and effectively deploy SMEs across BMO’s sprawling retail banking geographic footprint. SMEs would then spend more time engaging customers and less time traveling. A recent American Banker article sums up the initiative nicely. A number of factors are conspiring to cause US banks to challenge retail operating models. Improving branch channel – indeed multichannel – efficiency and effectiveness is no longer optional. Desktop video conferencing is one of many options available to banks to do just that. In this context, is the BMO initiative a harbinger of more similar initatives to come? In July 2010, Celent surveyed nearly 200 North American financial institutions about their use of branch channel technologies. The survey spawned a three report series: • Branch Banking in a Multichannel World: What Ever Happened to the "Branch of the Future?" Branch Banking in a Multichannel World, Part II: The Many Faces of Change Branch Banking in a Multichannel World, Part III: Case Studies in Branch Transformation Through the survey, Celent found desktop videoconferencing (for client use) among the least likely deployed of any of the technologies studied in the research. Overall, just 10% of FIs surveyed had or were piloting solutions and another 7% were planning to implement a desktop videoconferencing solution. Larger banks were more likely to be considering. Only kiosks ranked below desktop videoconferencing in usage or planned usage. videoconferencing Thus, it appears that BMO is an early adopter of a technology that might see eventual adoption by a third of the larger US banks. But July 2010 was a while ago. Celent plans to field another survey in the coming weeks. Participating FIs will receive complementary summary of results. Interested parties are invited to contact me directly at bmeara@celent.com to be included in the survey panel.

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