Barclays to introduce chat system

Barclays to introduce chat systemBarclays is planning to introduce a Skype-style video chat option for customers.

The Daily Telegraph reports the bank will launch an online chat system that allow bank staff to communicate directly with account holders.

It is hoped the use of the technology will reduce the reliance on the high-street banking network – allowing them to cut costs.

Barclay’s chief executive Antony Jenkins will introduce the service within the next few weeks and could eventually lead to the closure of traditional branches.

Video has already been used by building society Nationwide, with customers able to use a branch-based video-chat system to talk directly to mortgage advisors in its Northampton head office.

However, Barclays is the first to use the technology to connect customers in their own home.

It is expected the system will be made available outside usual bank opening times – something that could appeal to customers who find it difficult to get to a branch during standard hours.

“We’re trying to give customers a choice of when, where and how they bank with us but with the added comfort of a human face,” said Steven Cooper, chief executive of personal banking at Barclays, told the Financial Times.

“We will have fewer branches, but the branch network will always exist and this is just about developing extra services on top of it to complement the branches,” he said.

Initially, the video-chat system will be run by staff based at the bank’s Sunderland base. It will also allow for sign language conversation to take place.

Julian Skan, managing director at Accenture for the banking industry in Europe, Africa and Latin America, said many banks are considering similar systems, but this will be the first to be up-and-running in Europe.

“It will create a splash and convince some people to switch banks, but I’m not convinced that video will become the dominant format for interacting with banks,” said Mr Skan.

“The danger is that if a two-way video conversation does not work perfectly, the user will become frustrated.”ADNFCR-1684-ID-801763358-ADNFCR