It’s true that there are quite a few things that used to be considered standard that are now getting kicked to the curb.
Phone booths, for instance. They were so common that Superman used to change in them. Now you’d be hard-pressed to find a payphone – much less a special structure dedicated to housing one. But don’t worry, Superman doesn’t need phone booths or other places to change. He’s fast enough he could change in an alley or just about anywhere else.
What has technology pushed out the door?
- Fax machines
- Floppy discs
- Cassette tapes
- Phone books
- Portable DVD players
- Slide projectors
- Film cameras
But bank and credit union branches have something those things don’t – an element of human interaction. Over half (62%) of consumers report preferring to bank with financial institutions that have a physical presence. A similar number (60%) of surveyed Americans say they would rather open a checking account in person.
And it’s not frivolous talk. Most people (61%) have visited a branch in the last 30 days, according to a recent Fiserv study. Of those, Millennials aged 25-35 reported visiting a branch over four times per month. Generation Z reported visiting a branch at least once monthly.
So why all of the focus on branch closings?
While people are still visiting branches, it usually isn’t to check balances, make small deposits, or withdraw cash. All of those services can be performed at the ATM, ITM, or through digital and mobile banking. With so many of the “everyday” banking tasks performed without a branch, regular consumers are starting to view their relationship with their bank accounts as primarily digital or self-service. This attitude puts a great deal of emphasis on streamlining these same banking tools for better customer experience and branding. It has also given rise to the idea that banking does not have to be the sole domain of financial institutions.
As a result, we see an increase in financial and banking technologies – things like digital wallets, prepaid debit cards, and online-only financial institutions. Then there are the developers focused on helping make traditional institutions more competitive. Mobile apps, big data, analytics, heat maps, and interactive teller machines are just a few of the developments these companies are using to gain an even bigger foothold with banks and credit unions.
There is simply a LOT of money to be made in the development of new technologies. And pushing a narrative of “out with the old, in with the new” helps convince businesses and consumers to follow suit.
There is just one BIG problem. These new technologies might provide convenience when it comes to non-cash payments, balance transfers, and even some loan options. But they have quite a few issues when it comes to providing what “traditional” financial institutions already have – access to withdrawals and deposits. To meet demand, they have to build partnerships with surcharge-free ATM networks, retailers, and other technology groups to cobble together real access to the consumers’ money. Some digital banks don’t even accept cash deposits.
So, what does this mean?
When it comes to dealing with large deposits, loans, financial advice, or problems, people still prefer an in-person element. You know, all those things that cause high anxiety or require additional financial knowledge – that’s when people want a person and a place they see as a repository for money.
It’s the personal touch.
Technology is a good service tool. But it doesn’t have the convenience, reassurance, or support offered by banks and credit unions that have a physical presence within the community. In short, the branch isn’t as done as the tech world would have us believe. And consumer behavior has consistently proven that fact.
So, whether you grow, reduce, transform, or augment your branches (and your ATMs, ITMs, kiosks, retail partnerships, surcharge-free ATMs, shared branches and ATM outsourcing!) the Wave2 locator can help with the modern interactive solutions that make it easy and even fun to find you anywhere and everywhere you are.
Find out how the Wave2 locator can help your financial institution with all of these issues and more!
Jason Green, Co-Founder
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