By Roy Urrico
Gene Pranger is an innovator in the personalized interactive video banking experience space. In 2005, he created uGenius, which was purchased by NCR in 2012. Today, he is co-founder and CEO of POPi/o. The Sandy, Utah –based company provides multi-channel video banking solutions. Recently, he spoke with Finopotamus about the advantages video brings to credit union operations.
Pranger explained how POPi/o’s video banking call volume increased over 283% in 2020, going from about 2,500 video production calls per week to between 10,000 to12,000 calls with over a million video calls expected by next year.
“It's been a heavy lift, getting people from where I thought they should have been 15 years ago to where they're at today,” he said. “I think what you are beginning to see is how the technology has embedded itself.”
The video banking pioneer cited several reasons why video banking makes sense. “One is going into a branch environment is an onerous task. I have to get in my car. I have to get out of my car. I have to go inside that building. I do not know if the person inside will be able to even help me when I get inside that building. If I am looking for a particular solution, I do not know if I am going to be approved. Will they push back on me?”
With video, Pranger noted that individuals can have that same face to face discussion with the product expert they need, and get a real time, and quicker, answer to a problem or concern. “Video takes many of those issues out of the way.”
Another pro-video banking reason offered by Pranger is that credit union members and bank customers can begin to see the results from a social psychographic perspective. “It hits all the buttons for us, right? We've been through this extremely long learning curve from a video banking perspective, but from a consumer usage standpoint, my life can be accomplished much more productively and with a level of comfort.”
Pranger believes the industry has entered a new era in retail and branch distribution for financial services. “Twenty years ago, it was the branch network and it was a hub and spoke type of model. Digital came along and digital became the priority because of the efficiencies associated with it.” However, he indicated digital has its own limitations in that it does not allow for human connection, which requires the branch network to remain in place.
“But with video, it is a very different thing, right? So perhaps the new order is that digital, self-service becomes our priority whenever possible. And we have a relationship with you. We want you to go through this self-service and digital delivery channel, but the second might be creating a video hub," Pranger said. He added, this video call center with agents either centralized or decentralized can handle multiple different categories or channels such as mortgages, investments, loans, new accounts. “You do it all over your mobile handset, or your web camera.”
If a member needs to talk to someone, obtain cash, get something completed, or feels more comfortable talking to a person in person, Pranger said it's important that the physical location is still available.
“But it's only a point of distribution. It is not the hub any longer. In the new age, we're thinking about retail financial distribution,” pointed out Pranger. “The branch still plays a critical role in terms of that branding and fulfilling, points of transactions as they need to occur. With the video channels today that we developed, there’s really very little need to go inside that branch environment.”