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Planning Commission

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Apr 11

Banking in a World of Mobile Communication

Posted on April 11, 2017 at 8:50 AM by Michael Stokes

The expansion of communications technology has created dramatic changes in the way we manage our finances.  Secure online access to our banks enables everyone to perform a variety of financial transactions at any time, and in any place.  Bank of America estimates that their active mobile banking users have grown from about 12 million in 2012 to over 21.6 million in 2016.  No doubt that number will be even higher in years to come.  They further estimate that deposits at their banks have dropped by 50% over the past 5 years due to mobile access.  Mobile banking enables people to not only check account balances, but also allows clients to receive notifications, actively manage their investments or get loans with a few clicks of remote devices.   In the future even more mobile banking options will be available.

With all of this remote access to handle our financial needs, the question arises: “ Do we need banks?”  Ironically over the past few years, several new bank branches or financial centers as they are now called have been proposed in the county.  Many of these new financial centers are taking on a refreshed image, far different from cold, monolithic, and marble-floored banks of the past.   These financial centers are designed to be open, modern, vibrant and colorful spaces with various client friendly amenities.  Some financial institutions are even including non-traditional features such as coffee bars in their financial centers to attract patrons.

Financial centers are also being designed to integrate into other commercial environments such as grocery stores and larger retail spaces.   These co-located financial centers are designed to blend into existing retail spaces and work seamlessly with other retail and service providers.

Despite the changes in our financial world brought about by new communications technology, it appears that there will still be places in our communities where people work to ensure that the financial needs of local residents and businesses are well managed.  The bottom line here is that the old definitions of banking may no longer apply, and the past design standards governing financial institutions may need to be rethought.   But even with all of the communications technology, financial institutions will continue to have a physical presence in our communities, yet, there will be changes in the way they look and function.
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Banks of the past, cold and unfriendly

PNC Bank II
New banks are more inviting and incorporate sustainable design

West Norriton Citadel Bank
New banks use unique architectural design to attract attention and welcome clients

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