Stepping foot into your local bank can often feel like you’ve entered an ancient tomb filled with deathly silence, stale air, and the occasional horrifyingly dour expression. Walking up to the teller’s wicket feels akin to approaching Judge Judy’s bench and the guard situated at the door strangely resembles Officer Petri Hawkins-Byrd.
Yes, going to the bank is a joyless affair, which may explain the rising interest in virtual banking. After all, why dampen your day by darkening your bank’s doorstep when you can do your banking from the comfort of your own home through a hip new internet company?
As legions of millennials opt for virtual banks such as Simple or Moven, experts ponder the efficacy of app-based banks versus the traditional bricks and mortar model. And, it turns out that virtual banks, despite their friendly demeanors–are sorely lacking.
If you are looking for one-stop banking, the virtual bank is not the place for you. Yes, they may be there ’round the clock, but no matter what time of day it is, they cannot give you a credit card, a business account, a mortgage, a car loan, or retirement planning advice. With about as many service options as your ceramic piggy bank, your virtual financial institution is a poor substitute for the real thing.
You may not “need” a traditional bank at the moment, but your virtual bank does. In fact, Simple and Moven cannot exist without bricks and mortar financial institutions. They rely on banks to operate checking accounts and insure deposits. Plus, as Investopedia warns, unless an internet bank has made an agreement with another bank to use its ATM machines, you will be charged every time you use one. Yikes.
No Human Face
The truth is that Personal Banking Representatives are just like everyone else. Yes, some are dour, but most are friendly and eager to be at your service. And, yes, many will come to know you on a personal note and call you by name. This will never happen when you engage in virtual banking.
And, while you may not be in the market for new friends, a relationship with your neighborhood banker can prove beneficial when it comes to borrowing funds, financial planning, or trying to secure the best interest rate.
Reliant on Technology
When it comes to needing to make an urgent transfer of funds, you do not want to be reliant on Smartphone technology. In “Virtual Banking Billed as the New Market Disruptor,” American Banker‘s Kevin Tynan warns that “it is difficult to ensure long-time financial security when consumer banking is solely predicated on Smartphone battery life and Wi-Fi connections.”
Not Alone in the Online World
If customers are seeking the luxury of banking from home, most bricks and mortar financial institutions offer a plethora of online and telephone banking services. By providing internet and phone-based banking for a much more comprehensive product range, traditional banks are actually a viable option for tech-savvy millennials who wish to truly enjoy one-stop banking. They need never step a single high-top Converse in their local branch.
There are some areas in which Millennials crave a more “hands-on” approach than can be offered by virtual technology. They still clamor for paper books. And they still perceive banking as being a person-to-person activity. In fact, according to American Banker, what younger people want is a bank that gives them a sense of belonging and is willing to help them design a sound budget and financial plan. A virtual bank could never meet these needs.
Crypt-like silence and serious faces, aside, the truth is that managing your finances is serious business that can impact your quality of life. Carefully examine the bank that you have entrusted with your most valuable commodity and do not make your decision based on convenience or “cool factor,” alone. Your financial security depends on it.
Do you think virtual banking poses a threat to traditional banking? Why or why not?