If your friend needs to borrow a few dollars? Simply push a button on your bank or credit union’s app. Need to split a bill with someone? There’s an app for that too. Payday? Don’t worry; your money is in your account already—maybe even two or three days ago.
That’s the world of modern banking. However, 25 years ago when Info-Pro started, things were just a bit different (and many still got a toaster or some other gift for opening an account).
The banks and credit unions we worked with then (many of which are still partners today) were just starting to sow the seeds of digital banking. As a result, most activities were labor-intensive for the institution and the account holders.
Here are some ways technology has changed banking since those early days of Info-Pro:
Today, mobile banking is considered commonplace—especially for younger users. However, back at Info-Pro’s inception, online banking was barely a thing.
Sure, internet banking began in the late ‘80s, and The Stanford Credit Union was the first to do it in America in 1994. However, between lack of back-end technology and the dial-up internet speeds of the time [those of you old enough, can hear it now,] heading to the local branch was usually faster.
That was most apparent on Friday afternoons when bank customers lined up at the end of a long workweek to deposit their checks. This influx of business would keep bank staff working well into the evening, balancing books for the day and driving up costs. And of course, those long waits at the end of a long workweek would lead to some unhappy customers no matter how many free lollipops the staff let them take home for their kids.
Today, however, like the free lollipops at most branches, those days are long gone. Instead, many companies allow for direct deposit of payroll—even for part-time workers. This not only allows their staff to get paid on payday [rather than waiting for paper checks to clear], it allows them to get on with their weekend plans.
But it’s not only payroll processing that has changed thanks to the advancement of the Internet. Today, customers can quickly deposit checks from their phones, check balances and move funds without a trip to the branch or even an ATM. Even paying bills has become far less burdensome on members and staff thanks to online and autopay functionality.
Back in 1997, if a person wanted to lend a friend money, chip in their share of a bill, or buy something from them, they had two choices: write them a check and make their friend head to a branch to cash or deposit the check to get the money. Or the person could shuffle down to the bank or ATM themselves, get the money out, and hand them a bunch of $20 bills and hope they had change if needed. Either way, there was a trip to the bank involved, and if going into a branch, it meant extra work for tellers to manually handle all the additional transactions.
Over the past 25 years we’ve seen many changes to banking technology allowing consumers to bank easier—and banks and credit unions to service them easier.
Today, thanks to digital integration, many bank customers and credit union members can push a button on the institution’s app and instantly transfer that $10 they owe their friend for the latte they grabbed on the way to work.
Add to that the power of embedded payments, buy now, pay later, and other options that integrate with an institution’s back-end. As a result, it becomes increasingly easy for consumers to spend and banks and credit unions to become part of that by offering these services directly or partnering with fintech companies.
Mortgages and Loans:
Despite the emergence of email, pdfs, the Internet, and more automated credit scoring, loan processing was a much more personal affair for most in the mid-to-late-‘90s. Loan officers would sit across from applicants multiple times to collect information, receive and review forms and, of course, obtain signatures. Today loans are done more quickly and often without personal interaction, even for mortgages.
The same can be said about the transition for managing property tax escrow. What was once a time-consuming manual drain of tracking, gathering information from multiple municipalities, readying and sending payments, and more, today can be automated from the most basic of tasks through payment processing. This saves time and frees up staff for customers that still use chat functionality, call on the phone, and even come into a branch hoping for one of the days-gone-by lollipops.
Info-Pro and the industry have seen many changes over the past 25 years. It will be interesting to see where the next 25 will lead.