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More Changes in Store for Banking

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Wayne CurtisWe live in a world of rapidly accelerating change. To understand what is happening, all we have to do is look at the vast transitions occurring throughout society. Twenty years ago, most people did not have an email address. Now it is hard to imagine life without email.
Like other segments, the financial sector – in particular, banking – continues to undergo vast changes. Innovations in products and services and the technology for accessing them have transformed the industry.  And, according to many experts, greater shifts are in store in the future.
Remote transactions through debit cards and payment apps are becoming the preferred method of undertaking banking activities for many people. Estimates are that these cost-effective, convenient digital services – combined with the shrinking number of banks and bank branches – will render extinct many common banking services over the next decade or so.
Activities conducted in brick-and-mortar locations will decline drastically. Fewer customers will set foot in branches. Although online banking is foreign to some older citizens, younger generations of customers are readily embracing technology that allows them to conduct banking business from smartphone, iPads, and other mobile devices. Many will never visit the inside of a bank.
In addition, fewer people will write or cash checks in the future. A recent poll found that 38 percent of bank customers never write a check, and 16 percent write one check per month. Online banking will lead to further reduction in printed checks.  Check printing could become obsolete.
Paper use will virtually disappear from banks of the future. Paper statements and deposit slips will eventually go the way of the horse and buggy.
In the next decade, some predict that paper loan applications could give way to online applications. The move from paper to online procedures will eliminate the costs of printing and postage and create more efficient operations.
Tellers currently take care of basic needs of customers such as deposits and withdrawals. But as fewer customers come into bank buildings, there will be no teller lines and few tellers. Tellers who remain will find their job descriptions will change drastically.
Change is a constant that will continue.  And all of us, especially those of us in older generations, must learn to embrace change or be left behind.

Wayne Curtis, former superintendent of Alabama banks, is a retired Troy University business school dean.  Email him at wccurtis39@gmail.com.