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Bank of America branch manager Robert Barresi demonstrates new ATMs with on-screen teller Indira Celaya. Banks and other financial industries are looking to further collaborate with technology companies in the "Fin Tech" sector.

Bank of America is testing out a new concept at one of its New York branches. Instead of a live teller behind the glass, it has a teller connected via videoconference in a souped-up ATM machine in the lobby.

This saves money because it allows the lobby to be smaller and a single teller to service multiple branches. BoA says it will open up five more of these branches this year in Charlotte, Boston and New York. 

BoA is just one of many banks that are moving away from the traditional teller line, including megabanks like it and Wells, but also midsized financial institutions and even a fair amount of community banks. Each has taken a slightly different approach, but it's a system-wide trend.

If the concept proves popular, it may open even more next year, just the latest experiment from a big bank looking to reinvent its customer experience -- though there is some backlash by tellers themselves over the change. Is this another way for banks to cut costs and provide less service, or will virtual tellers improve the customer experience?

There are a number of startups out there looking to reinvent the banking experience using mobile technology, but security worries concern many Americans. Should consumers be worried? Or does new-age banking prevent the security lapses we've seen with traditional banking?

Mobile links and video chats are neat as ATMs go, but in many ways banks are just catching up. After all, many elderly people use Skype to see their great grandkids. As bankers view it, they don’t need to pay for all those teller desks because even grandma’s moving on. 

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About the author

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the former host of Marketplace Money, APM’s weekend personal finance program.

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