I wrote this back in the day when banks weren’t open on Sunday (some not even Saturday). Is Bank Access vital? Hard to remember the days when you carried cash, or paid with cheque. ATM systems, Interac and easy credit have changed the entire consumer paradigm. Read this remembering the context and year it came from (2009).
The animated short that I found on the weekend from the National Film Board (Banks and Humor) got me thinking about how banking has changed so drastically in one generation (effectively 25 years).
When I was growing up, the bank was open from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, reopened Thursday from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM and then was open Friday until 4:00 PM (I seem to recollect I may not have that correct). That was the only access you had to your money, other than being able to write cheques on your bank account. Where the idea of Bankers’ Hours came from.
I remember my Mother and Father did their banking on Thursday night, and it was a “tradition”, as it were, to go out Thursday night, get the grocery order for the week and go to the bank to do the banking as well. That was it, you could not do much else, because that was the only time you could “bank”.
ATM Brings a New Age
When I went off to University I was lucky that I lived on campus and the University had a branch of the CIBC on campus, so banking for me was relatively simple. That first year I even got a Credit Card (mostly just to buy text books with).
Late in my first year or early second year, the Campus bank got the first ATMs I had ever seen and the world changed drastically again. Money was then available most of the time, you just went to the machine and you got your money (at the time withdrawals were about all you could do with the ATM).
A year later I moved off campus and then found the Canada Trust, which was open 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM every day and was even open on Saturdays, and I moved my banking there, and they had ATMs that were called Johnny Cash machines (I kid you not), and thus my access to banking was even easier.
Interac and On Line Banking caused a Paradigm Shift
With the advent of Interac suddenly the need to carry large amounts of cash, or have a cheque cashing card with your grocer disappeared (over night it felt like), after a short period of time, you could buy pretty much anything with no cash in your pocket (I still remember my mother being very nervous walking around with $100 to pay for the weekly grocery order), cash was now not needed, if you had a debit card.
On Line banking in the late 80’s meant you no longer needed to ever go into a bank, except for specific issues or to access a safety deposit box.
I rarely if ever go into my bank, I think the few times a year are to:
- Access my safety deposit box (once or twice a year)
- Complain and/or attempt to get my banking fees eliminated (once a year)
- Open a new account or investing account (once every year or two)
- Deposit a large cheque (once or twice a year)
Given I used to go to the bank at least once a week 30 years ago, it seems things really have changed a great deal in a very short period of time.
Is this a good thing, is my only question? If you were forced to only be able to “bank” at specific times, might you think more about what you were doing? I am curious to hear any opinions on this topic.
The world has changed so drastically when it comes to spending and banking. Is it for the better? No, not in my opinion. Some technological changes have been good, but loose credit and ease of access has created a monster.
This is a win-win situation all around for the banks. They get to reduce overhead by having fewer branches fully staffed for fewer hours and charge higher service fees for teller services while also dinging clients for ABM transactions and debit card purchases.
Consumers may be more conscious of their spending if they had to go to a bank to get cash before they could purchase something, but that would mean way less revenue for the banks (and dividend for those who invest in banks).
Imagine a world where our cell phones had a coin slot on them and we had to plug a quarter in it every minute while using it. I think cell phone use would drop dramatically, since it would become a conscious decision to use it.
My intuition is that if we lived in a cash-driven economy, we would be far more sparing with our purchases. So, with regards to banks, we’d be more frugal with limited access to cash, especially if we also got rid of debit and credit cards, and cheques.