I do not like to physically go inside a bank for transactions. Using the drive-thru window can be just as annoying. When doing so, it always seems there is someone in line taking a great deal of time to complete their business; invariably there is someone asking questions or carrying out transactions that could best be served by going inside to address with a teller or bank officer. My experiences today are not new; issues involved with physically going to banks have existed longer than I have been using banking services. But, I am thankful that technology has developed ways to eliminate many of the challenges we faced with banking, back in the day.
You might recall the days when you could go into your bank and receive friendly, customer service. You knew the tellers and the tellers knew you. Today, customer service is a thing of the past, not just in the banking industry, but in most businesses.
In the past, going into a bank did not cause you to feel that you were on the defensive, especially when you were withdrawing your own money. Even a long wait in a line brought some enjoyment as it presented an opportunity for you to catch up on the events of the past week with your neighbors waiting patiently in line. There were even chairs near the teller areas where the elderly could sit until their turn at the window had arrived.
It seemed back then then that everyone used the same bank. There was Beneficial, Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS), Girard Trust, Central Penn, Industrial Valley Bank (IVB), Meridian Bank, Provident, Continental, Germantown Savings, and my regular bank, First Pennsylvania Bank. Then there was the Citizens and Southern Bank that had branches at 19th and South Streets, 19th and Chestnut Streets and 55th and Chester Avenue. I must admit that Citizens and Southern Bank were far ahead of my time, but I recall my father talking fondly about “the bank for Colored people.”
Yes, I went into banks to do business in the past and would always have a friendly bank representative with whom I could speak. Those days conjure up memories of bank books; some of you will remember bank books. But this was back then and not today. When there is a need to interact with a bank representative today, it is frequently by telephone and the bank representative is often in another location such as North Carolina or Florida. So, while I physically visited banks in the past, today, I try to do as much banking as possible by way of the automatic systems that are available to a customer; systems that were not available to us, back in the day.
Do you have memories of waiting at work for the distribution of your paycheck and then the mad dash to the bank to make a deposit? Perhaps you recall the days when you were paid by your employer with cash. Yes, cold hard cash! Can you imagine working in an environment where someone arrives at your location with cash and distributes it along with a payroll slip detailing your earnings and deductions? It was hardly safe then and clearly would not be safe today.
Whether you were paid by check or cash, you faced the challenge of physically going to the bank to put money into your checking or saving account. Contrast one’s behavior in the past with today. Most people have direct deposits for their pay. If one has the need to check their balances or to see if a check has cleared, it is either telephone banking or on line banking. This same technology is used for transfers between accounts. Now, think about what you did, back in the day, after banking hours and on weekends when banks were closed.
Can you imagine surviving without a Money Access Card (MAC), now known today as debit card? Well, most of us did in the past. So what did we do? You surely recall having money hidden at home. You may also remember that there was a relative or friend from whom you could borrow a few dollars in case of emergencies. Because of Pennsylvania’s Blue Laws, getting a check cashed at a store or bar on Sundays was out of the question. So, often times you had to put off your purchase or other activities until another day when you could get to the bank. But today, we have the debit card. You simply go to a ATM and withdraw cash or make other transactions. If it is your bank’s ATM, there is no fee; otherwise there is a fee for non-bank ATM transactions. Usually there is a maximum limit for a withdrawal but it is usually a reasonable amount. It definitely beats the past where the result would be no money available at all.
With all of the introductions to streamlining banking without going into a bank office, I view mobile banking as being at the top of the list for banking convenience. Just think, you can get a check at any time of the day and with the use of a banking app on your smartphone or tablet, make a deposit. You identify the mount, take a photo of the check, front and back and deposit the check into your checking or savings account with your money usually being available on the next day. Some banks even offer telephone deposits. So, if you have direct deposit for your paycheck, the use of a debit card, mobile deposits, the use of Venmo and other apps to make payments, be thankful for all the banking technology that exists today and then imagine how you would survive if they did not exist as was the case and the challenge, back in the day.