A Trip to the Bank

bitcoins and u s dollar bills
Photo by David McBee on Pexels.com

I had to go to the bank recently. Since most banking can be done online these day, going into a bank is something I do once every 2 or 3 years. The last time I had to go inside the bank was nearly 3 years ago when I had to get a cashier’s check issued when we were buying our new house.

The reason I had to go to the bank was because of a failure of technology. We had received a check, and I went to deposit the check through our mobile app, something I’ve done plenty of times before. The check was handwritten, and no matter how many times I scanned the check, the mobile app kept “detecting” the wrong amount in the image. I tried three or four times, but it never got it right.

In the past, this wasn’t a problem because the mobile app would ask for the amount of the check before you snapped a photo. However, that is no longer the case. The only way the mobile app can get the amount of the check is by scanning it from the photo. When it kept scanning the amount incorrectly, there was no place for me to go to correct it — except the bank itself.

When I was 15-1/2 and first started working, after school in stationary store in the mall, there was a savings bank where I opened a savings account in order to deposit my paychecks. I remember being impressed by the bank. There weren’t a lot of ATM machines, but plenty of tellers who were always helpful when I deposited my check or withdrew some money. I had a bank book that listed my deposits and withdrawals, along with my balance. The bank was always full of people and the whole thing felt very grown-up to me.

Going to the bank recently to deposit the check, it was a completely different experience. The bank was empty of customers. I was the only one. That was good because it meant there was no wait. But there was no pleasant greeting, no chatting with the clerk behind the bullet-proof glass. I slipped the check and deposit slip through a slot and a moment later, I printed receipt came back through the slot. My footsteps echoed in the open space, and the whole thing felt anticeptic and archaic. I got the feeling that the branch did not get a lot of foot-traffic.

Back in those days when I had my account at the savings bank, the interest rates were something like 3, or 4, or 5%. (This was in the mid-to-late 1980s.) I had $100 in the bank, that $100 would earn more than $5 over the course of the year. Nowadays, when I have significanly more money in the bank, it earns less interest than that $100 did 35 years ago. I would think that with mobile banking, overhead costs would be lower and interest rates, even when almost nonexistant as they are today, would still be bolstered by that low overhead. But there are two things wrong with this assumption. First, banks are greedy as we all know, and want to keep as much money as they can. Second, they are clearly spending money on their mobile app, making regular improvements, which in turn, take away previously useful functionality that then requires me to head into the bank for which the now (lower) overhead costs are so clearly reflected.

Written on Feburary 2, 2022.

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  1. My bank’s app can usually be used to deposit a check by taking a picture of the front and back and entering the amount. However, one recent check had the amount with white numbers on a black background and the app could not handle this. So, for the first time in quite a while, we had to go to the bank in person to deposit a check.


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