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What’s your style: banking via a branch, online or both?

June 01, 2014

By Paul Brucker

Did you know that only half of all bank customers and credit union members visited their local branch in the last 30 days for a reason other than using an ATM? And that 30% of Americans haven’t visited a branch at all in the last six months?1

That’s right. Foot traffic inside branches isn’t as heavy as it used to be. And the decline didn’t happen overnight.

It decreased in the late 1980s due to the advent of the ATM. Then, Internet banking was introduced in the late 1990s. As people grew more comfortable making routine transactions via their computers, they had less need to visit a teller. Now, mobile banking has emerged and it provides many of the fundamental resources of a branch in the palm of one’s hand. In 2013, 33% of Americans used a mobile phone to access their bank or credit union account – a 5% increase from 2012.2

The convenience of today’s technology enables people to bank on the go and forgo branches for their day-to-day needs. Alliant’s technology provides its members 24/7 anytime, anywhere access to their money. With Alliant Online Banking and Alliant Mobile Banking apps, you can check your balances, transfer money between accounts, make a payment, deposit checks and locate which of our 80,000 surcharge-free ATMs are nearby. And if you have questions or want help, you can receive personal assistance, any time day or night, from an Alliant Member Service Representative by calling 800-328-1935.

While some consumers mostly – or exclusively – bank online, others are still on a digital learning curve and in the process of embracing it. Others use both online and offline services. And there remains a core of people who simply prefer and continue to do their banking in person at a branch.

Operating branches is an expensive proposition and not just in terms of real estate. In the wake of the 2009 economic meltdown, it’s small wonder that financial institutions are investing in digital channels and cutting back on the number of their branches. In 2012, for instance, U.S. banks and thrifts shuttered 2,267 branches.3

Here’s what transactions, on average, cost a financial institution:4

In person with bank teller at a branch    $4.25  
By phoning a call center $1.30 
Using an ATM $1.25
Online banking via computer $0.19
Mobile banking $0.10

Do digital banking and today’s economy mean branches are endangered and their number will continue to diminish as have video, record and book stores? No, it’s too early or wrong to rule them out according to some financial pundits, such as John Mathes, a director at the strategy firm Weber Marketing Group: “We see research showing consumers still want branches. Whether they use them or not, there is something psychological and intangible about having a branch nearby where they can go in, look across the table and get advice in person.”

Whether you bank by online banking, mobile banking, phone banking or in a branch, Alliant’s mission is to provide all our more than 279,000 members with friendly, efficient and personalized service. 

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