NatWest tests live video links

NatWest is testing electronic shopping kiosks in its branches as it considers introducing live video links in cash machines and home banking systems.

Six multimedia videoconferencing kiosks will be installed in NatWest and Thomas Cook branches this week. The interactive touchscreen systems allow users to access videos and make live video links to operators. Users will be able to view videos of holiday destinations, book holidays and pay by inserting a Visa card into the machines.

NatWest services include interactive information and application forms for credit cards, saving schemes and home insurance, together with live links to London help desks.

Although the Thomas Cook services have been on trial since last year, it is the first time NatWest has used the videoconferencing kiosks. The high-street bank will test the system for six months.

If successful, the bank could extend live video links to NatWest operators into its cash machines and home banking services. It is also talking to other high street retailers about setting up kiosks in shopping centres, which will allow users to view and buy products electronically.

“There is no reason to think we won’t be seeing electronic shopping malls with ten or 15 applications,” says a NatWest spokesman.

Olivetti, which co-developed the system, says a high-street home electronics store and an off-licence would also introduce the kiosks in stores soon.

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against NatWest over a leaflet promoting its NatWest Card Plus Account, which offers 16 to 20-year-olds incentives to open an account and promises, “No overdraft. No debt to worry about”.

The complainant’s 16-year-old son was given these facilities without parental consent, and had run up a considerable overdraft. The ASA says the leaflet implies it is impossible for account holders between the ages of 16 and 20 to incur any debt, and it asked the advertisers to change the wording of the offer.

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