Imagine going to the bank to make a transaction, and no one is there. No other customers. No tellers. Just signs instructing you to use videos to chat with a bank teller.
The experience is downright creepy, says TikToker Mel (@mel_in_sd), who discovered the new form of banking when visiting a Bank of America branch. A TikTok video of Mel’s visit to the futuristic bank branch has gone viral on the social media platform and has over 16,000 views.
In the video, Mel has to use her bank card to enter the Bank of America branch. Inside, there are no employees, just two video tellers and two private rooms where you can video chat with tellers if you need more privacy.
“I don’t know if I like living in the future. This is f--king weird, yeah,” Mel says in the video.
Why do some Bank of America branches have no employees?
Video teller machines, which allow you to communicate with bank tellers on a video screen versus in person, have been around for years. In 2001, Summit Credit Union in Madison, Wis., added video tellers in the lobby and drive-thru of a new branch it opened.
According to an article in The Financial Brand, Coastal Federal Credit Union in North Carolina first toyed with video teller terminals in 2003. By the end of 2009, 10 credit union branches had reportedly converted to the technology.
“The magic of this system is that the associate doesn’t need to be in the same building,” Coastal’s former CEO Larry Wilson told The Financial Brand. “Through new technology, one teller can help members in multiple locations, and we can instantly allocate teller resources to match branch traffic.”
Bank of America first opened branches with no employees in 2017.
The use of video tellers has grown over the years. Bank of America actually opened three completely automated branches, like the one Mel was in, in 2017. The automated branches were a way for the Bank of America to cut costs, Reuters reported in 2017.
With a looming recession this year, Bank of America may add more video tellers to its operations. CNBC reports Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan expects to continue to use technology to reduce the bank’s noncustomer-facing employees.
Consumers aren’t crazy about banks with no employees.
Although financial institutions like banks and credit unions may like how video tellers help them save money, some customers aren’t so crazy about it.
“If I go in the bank I am there to speak to a person. If I wanted to zoom I would from home,” Zoe W commented on Mel’s TikTok video.
“I think it's cool but also, sad there won't be any jobs left. Corporate America is going to ruin the world,” wrote Riki Jones.
“That's really insane. Although I don't set foot into a bank that much, I'd still like for a human being to be there in case,” said Matthew Kramer195.