While mobile banking is a godsend for those who are more likely to have a smartphone than a checkbook handy, there are certainly some people who lament losing the personal touch they get when going to a branch. But one local credit union wants to give its customers the best of both worlds.

El Segundo’s Xceed Financial Credit Union has launched what it calls the “Xperience Center,” a feature on Xceed’s mobile app that offers face-to-face video chats with bank employees and financial advisers.

“The majority of the financial institutions are using technology as a replacement or a cost-cutting process,” said Xceed Chief Operating Officer Ray Shams. “We are truly using our technology as an enhancement to our existing manpower. It’s designed to provide our members with a better, faster and more convenient experience knowing there’s a live person on the other end.”

The Xperience Center officially launched in June. Advisers are available from 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. Pacific time on the app; starting next month, they’ll be around 24-7, able to assist clients who might be traveling abroad – or have some pressing questions in the middle of the night.

Xceed Chief Executive Teresa Freeborn said she’d eventually like to have advisers that speak Spanish, Mandarin and other languages available remotely.

As more and more customers take advantage of online and mobile services – and fewer come into branches – many banks have faced the challenge of effectively using branch office space. Who needs six tellers in the middle of a workday anymore?

Russell Goldsmith, chief executive of downtown L.A.’s City National Bank, told the Business Journal earlier this year that his bank has removed some teller windows and replaced them with desks where bankers can issue loans and provide other services, trying to capture some business that is harder to replicate through its mobile app.

“People want multiple channels and a lot of times they just want to do it on their smartphone,” he said. “But when somebody wants a mortgage or they need investments or they need a line of credit for their business, that’s something that’s much harder to do over the Internet.”

That’s why Xceed wants to add the human element to its technology, not replace it.

“Xperience Centers are truly a tool that we have to expand our reach,” Shams said. “This is not a replacement or a cost-cutting gimmick. We’re not pulling our people out and replacing them with a glorified ATM.”

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