For years, technology has been slowly replacing basic fundamentals of everyday life and in some cases, even jobs that humans once worked. Computers, phones, GPS devices, cameras and media players are all part of our everyday lives. Years ago, people would say that computers would never catch on or if they did, they’d only be used for games and other “un-important” tasks. Now, these people eat their words as everything from shopping to booking airfare has been transitioned onto complex computer systems.
The reason for writing about this topic today was because of the personal experience I’ve had with online banking. I opened my first bank account when I got my first job back in 2000 and I rarely had to go into a branch because mostly everything by this time was being managed online with the exception of using the ATM for check deposits and cash withdrawals.
Today, I use a different bank and I only recently set up my new accounts. I was surprised to learn that I never even had to step foot into the bank to open these accounts. I went online due to an offer I received and wanted to cash in, so I started the application to open a new checking and savings account. I figured I might be able to go as far as establishing the account information, but I was sure that I’d have to sign something, take it in for identity verification and then make some initial deposits.
This was not the case. I was able to open the accounts, set up a new credit card with cashback rewards, perform a balance transfer for a 0% APR, make two initial deposits directly from my previous bank, request an ATM card, setup personal ATM settings like default withdrawal amounts, create accounting alerts, disable overdraft protection, order checks, link all my accounts together, create a payment plan for my credit card and setup direct deposit all online.
I was floored! I’m always looking for ways to transition everything I do to the online world to minimize paper and clutter in and around my desk and this just set the bar. I was a brand new customer and I had never even stepped one foot inside a branch nor have I ever had to use the ATM. I rarely use cash and I can deposit checks simply by taking pictures of the front and back and submitting them directly from my phone.
A lot of people feel that taking everything online causes you to stay home more and resign yourself to a computer screen 90% of the time. I find it to be the opposite. While you do spend some time in front of a computer setting things up or processing transactions, once you’re done, you have more time to take care of other things like chores or shopping.
Smartphones are quickly becoming more and more useful. You can now set your DVR to record your favorite shows from your phone. Or how about turning on lights and A/C or heating units just before you get home so you can arrive in comfort. Here are some other things you can do online to improve life:
- Add movies to your Netflix queue
- Opt-out of telemarketing calls
- Open/close/cancel bank accounts and credit cards
- Purchase houses, cars, boats, land and businesses
- Pay bills
- Buy and trade stocks
- Order food
- Buy groceries
- Send money to friends and relatives
- Buy medication
- Apply for jobs and participate in virtual interviews
- Book vacations with flights, hotels, cars and excursions
- So much more…this list could go on forever
My two cents
I’ve been on the Internet since 1996, so I’ve been witness to the drastic changes that have occurred through the years and I’m happy about where the Internet is today. It still amazes me that it has taken this long for people to catch up, but I guess with anything new or different, people can tend to shy away from it all. One concern I’ve always had is that doing everything above online takes away the human element. While this can be bad because you no longer have that face-to-face interaction with other people, it can be good because it takes out a lot of potential for errors.
I still know some people that write checks when they buy stuff or pull out large sums of cash to sustain them through the week and it always makes me laugh because I can’t think of the last time I ever used cash and who would want to carry around a check book all the time? Besides the great in-convenience this poses, you have security to worry about. Take for example you get robbed and there goes all your cash and checks. Now the thief has your money and your account information. You can guess what happens next. On the flipside, if you get robbed with just your credit cards, all you do is call them in later to have them blocked and any fraudulent charges will disappear in short time.
My goal is to never step foot in the bank in which I do business. I would like to see how many years go by without ever doing so.