The next big thing in banking

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, May 23, 2013

By Nathan Rice

Using his mother’s phone, my 20-month-old nephew was showing me pictures of his latest adventures. Evidently I was pausing too long on each picture because after a moment he would reach out, slide his finger across the screen and change the picture.

To the younger generation, technology is a way of life, but for many this explosion of gadgets, upgrades and changes creates questions and even a little apprehension.

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I was hoping by now we would have hovering vehicles like the Jetsons in order to avoid tunnel and bridge backups. While technology has not yet caught up with the imagination of Hanna-Barbera, there can be no debate it is changing our world. It also continues to change the world of banking.

Online bill-pay programs offered at most financial institutions continue to gain in popularity and are slowly making physical check writing more of a memory and less of a daily occurrence. Consumers are able to set up all their monthly bills — from mortgage and electricity to the day care center charges.

Once the information is stored, paying bills is as easy as entering the amount to be paid and the date to be sent. Better yet, if the bill is the same amount each month, all it takes is the click of the re-occurring payment option and the bill is paid monthly without any additional thought or time. What a change from writing checks, filling out envelopes and licking stamps. You do remember when we had to lick stamps, right?

With mobile apps, what used to take an entire branch building is now able to fit within one icon on your favorite smart phone. Now you are able to check balances, view account history, make payments and even deposit checks with just a few touches of the screen. Many institutions also allow you to pay other individuals by simply entering their mobile number or email address. This means the old “check is in the mail” excuse is being eliminated.

Other banking needs that often required one or more visits to a branch can now be completed electronically. Today, account changes, opening new products and even completing a loan often can be handled solely through a computer, tablet or even a phone.

As technology improves, we will see even more changes in how we conduct business with our chosen financial institution. The trick to navigating the world of electronic banking is learning what is offered, how it may benefit you and how to use these new tools.

If you’re not technologically savvy, stop by your bank and speak with a representative. Allow them to explain the electronic products and services they offer, and ask them to show you how they work. I am a big fan of electronic products, but only if they are backed by a professional, friendly, human support staff.

We may not have reached the point of Rosie the Maid, but banking is changing, and many of the products offered are things we would have only dreamed about in the past.

Nathan Rice is the Relationship Manager of the Downtown Suffolk branch of ABNB Federal Credit Union. He is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at