Monday, June 15, 2009

Are bank tellers still a necessity?

After I went to the bank today to deposit my paycheck, I started to think about how little I actually go into the bank anymore. I can only think of one time in over a year that I had to actually go into the bank and talk to someone. This thought led me to wondering what bank tellers do anymore. I am not saying that we should fire all bank tellers or that I begrudge anyone a job, but really how many people actually go to the counter at the bank to deposit money or get cash? The one time that I can think of having to go inside the bank, it was because I had my debit card number stolen and I had to go in and get a new card. This was after I had already talked to someone on the phone and so the account was already straitened out. I didn't even talk to a bank teller, I went immediately to another bank representative to handle my account. There are even people whose job it is to point the customer to who they need to talk to, thus eliminating people talking to the teller. There are plenty of people who need to be able to go in and talk to bank employees to secure loans or to add a new account or change their account or even, like I had to do, to get a new bank card if yours has been stolen or lost. But none of these actions require the services of the bank teller. It seems that myself and most people use the ATM or online banking to do most of our business with banks these days. Hell, I signed up for my current bank account online and was mailed the form I had to sign and then mailed it back to them. I never even stepped into a bank to set-up the account or to deposit any money.

This just seems to be a radical change for me and the way in which banking seems to work currently. I can remember, and I am not that old, when I set-up my very first bank account, my father and I had to go into the bank to fill out the paperwork and to deposit money. ATM cards were just becoming something that banks offered and these were used primarily to get money out of an ATM when the bank was not open or you did not want to go into the bank. Now we can and do use debit cards for everything, from getting money from an ATM machine to paying for purchase to depositing checks and cash into your account. I don't even carry cash that much anymore and I know I am not unusual in this fact. Even depositing money into ATMs has changed recently, at the bank I use there are no envelopes or deposit slips. You place the cash or check, depending, into a slot and then the ATM counts the cash or displays the amount that the check is written for. No fuss, no mess and no wasted paper. Are we moving toward a society where banks solely exist virtually either online or at ATM machines? I see a future where there are only a few large national banks, cash is all but extinct and we do all of our banking through machines.


Lisa said...

You may be on to something, but the cautious side of me wonders what would happen if we had some kind of cyber disaster?

I know - what a thought for this lovely morning!

GourmetGoddess said...

I would prefer that banking never become 100% cmoputer based. That was one of the first things that happened in The Handmaid's Tale. The Religious Right got into power and then flipped a switch on the electronic banking system, making it so that women could not access their bank accounts. Female money was funneled to their next RR-approved male kin.

Newsboy said...

Found this blog via the BWSNBN and recall some of your postings there. Nice posts.

@GG, one of my favorite books and one of the reason I mix my on-line banking with a lot of checks. I keep wondering what will happen if the wrong people get into these systems and then take control of our household money?