Living with credit

Who still walks into a bank to do business?

Connie Prater

Who still goes into a bank anymore and what are they doing in there?

I pondered that question on a recent drive in to work. On my roughly 15-minute commute to work, I drive past about a dozen bank branches for large national banks as well as regional and state banks and credit unions. In many major cities, banks are on every other corner of major thoroughfares.

Not the typical banking customer
I may not represent the typical banking client, but I’m pretty sure I’m part of an increasingly large number of them who bank electronically. If I go near a bank, it’s to drive through the ATM lane. On the now-rare occasions when someone gives me a paper check (yuck!), I use the drive-up teller to deposit it. I can avoid the drive by using a scanner to send and deposit the check. My brother does that and he, too, rarely goes to his bank branch anymore.

I recall the days when I did venture into a bank. There were ALWAYS long lines at the teller window and I always seemed to be behind a customer with some complicated transaction that required the teller and his or her supervisor.
I am paid electronically and pay my bills the same way. I have opened accounts at online banks and never physically went anywhere to do so. I guess I’ve become spoiled. I don’t ever want to go back to the days of standing in line at a bank.

Even when I applied for my mortgage loan, I never went into the bank. Everything was conducted over the phone and online. Sweet. When I applied for and got a new credit card? It was all online.

Money order?
I remember my family reunion last year. The cousin who organized the event requested the event fees in the form of a money order. A money order? Again, who is still using these? It required me to schlep on down to my bank, park the car and, gasp, go inside.

I lucked out and there was only one person in line ahead of me. I requested the amount that I wanted and after some hesitation (and a check with a supervisor) the teller informed me that there was no charge for the money order because I had several accounts with the bank, including my mortgage. It probably took 20 minutes of my time, including the drive to and from the bank.

It would have taken only a minute, if that, to transfer the money to her online. I hesitated to ask my cousin if she had PayPal or to give me her bank routing info so that I could just send her the money electronically. I don’t think she is that tech savvy.

Branch banking undergoing a transformation
Banking executives probably don’t want to hear that I’m avoiding going to the bank. But they need my feedback. I’m sure they’re probably already getting it.

As Mercator Advisory Group, a card and banking industry consulting firm, notes in new research, the banking business is evolving from one that was teller-focused offering a variety of services to walk-up counters to one that is embracing new models of service delivery to customers. Some banks and credit unions are adapting hybrid service models that focus more on self-service with financial advice and traditional teller service thrown in the mix.

I know that older consumers still want to walk in to the bank and fill out that deposit slip because that’s what they’re used to. They probably know the names of the tellers’ children and use that visit as a chance to socialize. I’m the type of customer who doesn’t need hand-holding and puts a premium on saving time.

Once I got my money order for the family reunion, I had to get an envelope — and a stamp. Sigh.

I rarely use those these days either.

Update: After filing this blog, I went home and in my mailbox was — a paper check (pictured above). Sigh.

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  • Cameroon

    i dont think branch banking will necessary go away but they definitely need to redefine themselves, maybe partner up with local institutions – grocery, churches, etc to be more cost effective , – lean
    I have ING bank , that i view as the future of banking but still, there are times i really need to walk into the old bank branch to get things done