It’s hard to imagine banks without technology. In fact, computers have been in use in banking since the 1950s, when Bank of America introduced a computer designed specifically for processing checks. Each new decade has brought innovations that change the way banks manage daily operations and serve customers. Today, you may not even leave your house to do your banking. As much as technology has changed the use of the computer in the banking sector, banks continue to adjust the way they do things.
You may no longer get a free toaster when you open a new checking or savings account, but the process is easier than ever. You can even open a new account online. On the banking side of things, this eliminates the need to have someone on-site at each branch, manually processing and approving applications. Once an account is open, the bank manages everything electronically. Still, many banks maintain local branches with full-time account representatives to help nearby customers who want that personal touch.
Those who hadn’t yet reached adulthood by the end of the last century may not remember the days of check writing. Businesses often had to wait for a check to “clear,” which meant approval by the payer’s financial institution, to access the funds they deposited. The use of computers have sped up that entire process, with instant check authorizations. Checks have mostly become an afterthought, thanks to debit cards that take funds automatically from a person’s account. Mobile payments will take that even further, letting customers pay with a mobile device or wearable, eventually taking plastic out of the equation.
As much as experts claim we’re heading toward a cashless society, it remains the most used payment method in the U.S., according to PYMNTS.com. Getting cash from your bank account still requires a trip to an automatic teller machine, known as an ATM. Since the first ATM was installed in 1969, the technology has evolved, making it easier for customers to deposit money, as well as withdraw. Although human tellers are still necessary, banks are aiming to have them focus on higher-level activities as ATM technology handles most basic transactions.
Furthering the do-it-yourself banking model is online banking, which allows customers to pay bills, view account balances, transfer funds from one account to another, pay friends and much more. Financial institutions have also given consumers control over their own security by adding features like the ability to freeze a missing credit card to avoid further charges. Over time, these controls will only increase as technologies like biometrics and facial recognition keep accounts safe.