MONTPELIER, Vt. – Marking its first expansion move since being approved last March to branch into six counties, Vermont State Employees Credit Union said a debut facility that opened recently in Rutland includes those remote walk-up teller stations which have become popular lately at CUs across the country. At the same time, the $320 million Montpelier CU, the second largest credit union in the state, said it also intends to open three more branches-all with the so-called, "high-tech" RTS equipment, similar to drive-ups-in Berlin, Burlington and Williston within the next "six to 12 months," according to Steven Post, president and CEO. "We decided to include the remote tellers as a means of handling transaction activity much more efficiently," said Pos,t noting that Vermont State will also offer traditional services for members who still are uncomfortable with the audio/video devices. On that score, Vermont State intends to add 22 new employees to staff the branches. When all of the branches are open in the six counties, "we will be able to service one half of the Vermont population," said a spokesman. The Montpelier CU began promoting its new Rutland branch two weeks ago as an example of its commitment to being on the leading edge of technology in its market. The Vermont Credit Union League on its Web site also cited Vermont State's advances with Bryan Kent, VCUL vice president, commenting, "This is how financial offices are going to look well into the 21st century, a blending of the familiar with the modern design of the office and the use of technology." The RTS devices through two-way video conferencing and pneumatic tubes allow customers to use a telephone handset to speak to a teller while the tube permits physical exchange of documents and cash. CUs installing the devices claim the RTS can reduce the number of tellers staffing branches and also provide increased security. Another advantage of RTS is the reduction of teller space. The traditional teller space runs 60 square feet but the RTS is 18 x 22 square feet, claims Diebold. Thomas Randle, president and CEO of the five-branch $165 million Sarasota Coastal Credit Union in Florida, says he expects to have all of his branches equipped with the devices by year-end. "I think we have to put up or shut up about high tech," said Randle, maintaining the high cost of operation with a full staff is a motivating force in choosing the equipment to reduce expenses. While the RTS devices "appear impersonal and cold," once members become familiar with the equipment they accept it easily after undergoing a training period. The devices, which Diebold says cost between $12,000-$15,000 though others have set a higher price tag with a broader service package, are also "a lot safer for tellers reducing the chance for holdups," he said. Daniel McIntyre, senior product manager for Diebold in Canton, Ohio, claims the RTS market has indeed been growing "at the rate of a couple hundred units a year" and that 40% of the nation's CUs now have them. There are currently 830 of its machines in bank/CU lobbies. Cynthia Grow, who with her husband, Richard, are owners of DEI Inc., a Cincinnati firm which designed and built the RTS system for Vermont State, forecast that many more CUs across the country will "come on strong" in setting up the facilities "because of their acceptance by the public." She said her firm has as many as 20 other installations "on the drawing boards now." -


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