Since their introduction in the 1960's, automated teller machines (ATMs) have provided bank customers with a convenient way to access their cash 24 hours a day seven days a week without having to wait until banking hours and queue to see a teller. Now the world's biggest ATM provider is putting the "teller" back in the automated teller machine with the unveiling of an ATM with integrated two-way video conferencing that lets users talk live with a remote teller.

Along with letting customers choose the standard self-service functionality with which we're all familiar, the new multi-function NCR SelfServ 32 ATM also lets users opt for an Interactive Teller interface to carry out a transaction with a remote teller that would typically take place within a branch.

NCR says the technology will let financial institutions centrally locate tellers at a remote location and allow such institutions to provide 24 hour access to teller services. It could also allow financial institutions to build new small-footprint branches and provide teller services in areas that are not serviced by bricks and mortar branches.

"Consumers cannot always bank during banking hours. They want service at a time and place that is convenient for them," said Michael O'Laughlin, senior vice president, NCR Financial Services. "Interactive Teller on NCR SelfServ ATMs offers the best of technology - convenient self-service for simple, typical transactions, and personalized banking for after hours and remote service."

NCR's new interactive teller machines, which are powered by technology from Utah-based video banking specialists uGenius Technology, are currently on trial in the U.S. Whether they will simply result in bank queues being relocated from the interior of branches to the sidewalk as a remote teller walks a customer through a complicated transaction remains to be seen.