Tellers to make a comeback at Bank of America's ATMs

After years trying to do away with tellers in banking, Bank of America would put them back - via video - in the very machines that replaced them.

According to the financial services giant it would start offering live video chats with tellers later this month through a new generation of interactive ATMs that would debut at Bank of America's Back Bay branch at 133 Massachusetts Avenue.

Customers and remote tellers would be able to interact in the same way that people talk on the popular video-calling service Skype to facilitate interactions that cannot be completed on traditional ATMs, such as cashing checks down to the penny and receiving bills in a variety of denominations, including $1, $5, $20, and $100.

Though electronic banking remains popular with around 30 million of Bank of America's 53 million customers regularly banking online, according to the bank - the industry was realising that  people needed human interaction. A study of Generation Y's banking habits published in January, showed that 40 per cent of 25-to-34-year-olds - more likely than anyone else to be banking online, said they preferred completing transactions with a teller.

According to the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender, the video service, dubbed Teller Assist, would give customers the same quality of assistance they received when they went into a brick-and-mortar office.

ATMs with Teller Assist would be installed at banking centres (both inside and via drive-thru) and at remote ATM locations, with tellers available for chat from 7am to 10pm - a significant extra chunk of time as aginst BoA's typical banking hours. On weekends, they would from 8am to 5pm.

As regards benefits, speaking to an actual human gets users, they would be able to cash checks for their exact value (with change, even). Also customers would no longer be shackled to denominations of $20 while withdrawing money; and they could take out cash in $1 increments if they chose.

These would be the main differences at launch, though Bank of America also planned to roll out support for cash back with check deposits, dividing a deposit between accounts, and making loan and / or credit card payments.

The new ATM roll out would take some time, though. The programme would launch in Boston this month and would expand across the US throughout 2013.