For many people these days, a trip to the bank is becoming increasingly rare. A recent survey conducted by New York-based financial services company Bankrate.com, found that almost 4 in 10 Americans have not visited a bank or credit union in the last 6 months. That seems hard to believe, unless you consider how technology has revolutionized our methods of handling money.
Gone are the days of paying for purchases with cash, depositing checks to a teller, and even rolling your spare change for some extra cash in a time of need. These days, most people sign up for direct deposit of payroll checks, or use smart phone apps that enable them to make the deposit right on their cell phone.
When I was younger, I used to get annoyed when I saw signs at a small corner store that said “NO BILLS LARGER THAN $10” and I only had a 20-dollar bill. These days, those signs are increasingly rare, having been overtaken by the annoying “MINIMUM CHARGE OF $10” disclaimer we hear at the bar when we only want one drink and only brought a credit card.
Millennials are significantly less likely to use cash than previous generations. A recent survey by CreditCards.com found that 51 percent of Americans under age 30 were more likely to use plastic than cash for purchases under $5. In contrast, 77 percent of Americans over age 50 said they would use cash for purchases under $5.
Unsurprisingly, bank employment has seen a steady decrease in recent years, and the hiring process for available jobs has shifted dramatically as well.
“The future of branches in banking is about focusing on advisory and consultation rather than transactions,” said a recent Citigroup report on the status of banks. “Branches and associated staff costs make up about 65 percent of the total retail cost base of a larger bank and a lot of these costs can be removed via automation.”
A large portion of the total retail cost of the banks was due to costs associated with maintaining a branch, including staff wages, energy costs, and furniture. When these costs got to be too much, the banks lowered their costs by introducing automation in place of unnecessary jobs.
These changes have also found their way over to the fast food industry, though individuals involved in the “Fight for $15” minimum wage movement do not appear to be afraid of them. Many McDonald’s locations in Europe now offer automated cashier machines, where one can pay via card, similarly to paying at the pump at a gas station.
It’s not too hard to ponder what changes might be made to your local McDonald’s should the cost of wages become unsustainably high. Just look at your local bank.