When was the last time you walked inside a branch to conduct your banking tasks?
Online banking has become prevalent in the world of finance. The rise of online banking has analysts asking the question: will we eventually say goodbye to brick-and-mortar branches?
The question makes a lot of sense considering just how many people use online banking and just how many customers are refraining from working with an in-person teller. Even as ATMs become more advanced and technical, consumers are still turning to their online banking options for their daily financial tasks – this is part of the reason why ATM fees are skyrocketing today.
Here are two important statistics to take a look at: a 2013 Pew Research Center study found that 51 percent of adults in the United States bank online; and 51 percent of mobile phone users perform their banking chores with their smartphones and tablets.
Experts project that mobile banking will eventually outpace Internet banking on a desktop. Just take a look at these numbers when it comes to mobile banking:
- 90 percent of mobile users checked their bank balance with their smartphones.
- 33 percent of mobile users received a text message alert from their bank.
- 42 percent of mobile users transferred funds from one account to another.
- 11 percent deposited a check to their account by using the smartphone's camera.
Ostensibly, the consumers who are refraining from taking advantage of mobile banking are those who fear the security is inadequate or do not trust the technology used by major banks.
Of course, the rise in both online and mobile banking is being supported by younger adults.
Financial institutions have invested a lot into their online infrastructure and websites. Over the last 10 years, any user can see just how dramatically they have evolved. You can perform every banking task imaginable online: creating a bank account, stock trading, opening a mutual fund, paying a bill, sending money and everything else that you were able to do at a physical branch.
Simply put: online banking has many benefits that make the banking process quicker and easier.
The Main Benefits of Online Banking
Here are 10 benefits that you can enjoy from banking online:
Paying Bills Online
Back in the day, you would have to grab your monthly cable bill, credit card statement or hydro receipt you received in the mail and bring it to your local banking establishment. This was a perplexing endeavor since you had to wait in line at your branch or get there before it closed at five o'clock in the afternoon. Today, it has greatly changed thanks to online banking.
You simply need to take a couple of minutes, sign in to your bank account, select the companies you are paying a bill for, key in the total amount and hit the complete button. That's it. Voila!
No standing in line, no listening to someone chomping on gum and no stressing about arriving to the branch before closing time.
Viewing Your Transactions
After you made a stop at your local ATM, you received a receipt that provided you a grand total in your checking account. You thought about it for a couple of moments and you come to the conclusion that the amount is incorrect. Something must be wrong!
Rather than going back to the ATM, you just head on home and then check your transactions online to confirm or deny your suspicions.
Well, was the total balance figure correct? Yes. It seems that you spent a little bit more money than usual this week at Starbucks.
Transferring Money Between Accounts Without Visiting the Branch
You have a little bit of extra funds in your checking account so you want to transfer that money into your savings account or purchase a few units of your favorite mutual funds. Years ago, you had to visit a branch or even call a 1-800 number to perform this transaction.
Not anymore! By utilizing Internet banking, you can transfer any amount of money between bank accounts without ever having to venture to the branch.
Printing Statements from Home
Finally, you and your family have made the decision to establish a monthly budget, cut back on spending and determine how much debt you have. Instead of taking the time out of your day to get a bank teller to print a statement of your bank account, you can do it in the comfort of your own home. With this statement printed out, you and your family can crunch the numbers.
Syncing Your Account with a Mobile App
Every financial institution today offers its customers a mobile application. With this technology in hand, you can sync your account with a mobile app and peruse your finances, messages and banking options all on your smartphone or tablet while you're on the bus or at a restaurant.
Accessing Your Account 24/7
Whether you want to make a transfer on Christmas Day or you want to buy shares of a stock during pre-market trading hours, online banking affords you 24/7 access to your bank account.
You don't have to abide by the bank's (sometimes limited) hours of operations.
Keeping Track of Balances to Avoid Overdrafts
Unfortunately, a majority of households today live paycheck to paycheck. This means that we need to keep track of every penny in our bank account, especially when the bills are due. If you are short by just a few pennies then you could face an exorbitant overdraft fee that can set you back.
When you incorporate online banking into your day-to-day lifestyle, you can keep track of balances throughout your day in order to avoid these excessive overdraft fees that can be as high as $50.
Using Online Brokerage Accounts to Buy Stocks
Have you read about a stock that you think will shoot up five percent tomorrow? Do you want to take advantage of the intraday low of a specific stock? You don't have to sit down or call your broker to buy shares of the company for you.
You can utilize your bank's online brokerage account to buy and sell shares, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds and other types of investments without any hassle.
Having Fewer Paper Bills at Home
If there is one thing you don't need more in your home, it is clutter.
Online banking gives you the opportunity to receive e-statements, whether it's for your credit card or your monthly checking account transactions. This can prevent you from receiving paper statements in the mail that can create more of a mess in your home.
Saving Time By Not Waiting in Line
Time is a finite commodity. If there is one ultimate benefit of using online banking it is the amount of time that you can save. You don't have to stand in line and waste time, you don't have to communicate with a teller and waste time, you don't have to speak with a broker and waste time. Nearly all of your banking tasks and options can be performed on the Internet.
The aforementioned benefits of online banking certainly showcase one thing: it's fast and easy.
How to Be Safe & Secure with Online Banking
Despite most consumers using online banking, there are some that are still unsure. The holdouts are those who are most likely concerned about the safety and security of banking online.
Although a lot of financial institutions have installed top-notch security apparatuses to prevent breaches, infiltrations and cyber-attacks, there are things that the average user can do to ensure their bank account is safe as they peruse online.
Here are five additional tips for a safe online banking routine:
- You must have a strong password; use a mix of special characters, numbers and capitals.
- If applicable, implement the two-factor authentication for your bank account.
- Should you use mobile banking, always use your own data plan and not public Wi-Fi.
- Check your bank account often just to make sure that nothing dubious has transpired.
- Do not fall for phishing by clicking on links in your emails.
- Always access your bank account from a secure computer.
By adopting these safety tips, your online banking behavior can remain secure.
The technology behind online and mobile banking is just getting better and better every couple of years. You will be able to do absolutely everything on the corporate website in the future that there will not be any need or perhaps even demand for a brick-and-mortar branch.
Let's face it: branches are obsolete and are entering into the territory of the dinosaurs.
A majority of Americans, Canadians and Britons are using both online banking and mobile banking. They have realized that this is a much more convenient and easier alternative than actually visiting a branch on a Wednesday evening or on a Friday afternoon.
Whether you are performing your personal banking needs or you are conducting business matters at your bank, online banking is something that should always be considered to save you time, energy and resources.
Perhaps in the next 25 years, a branch will enter the dustbins of history and young people will read about it in a book and ask: what is a banking branch? The concept will travel to the back of your mind and you will need to think about it. After a couple of moments, you will respond: that's the place where they offered free coffee from time to time.