Old Technologies Never Die; They Just Converge

December 23, 2016 | Doug LaFave

Once upon a time there was cash, and it was everywhere. Some of you will remember this. You might get a Credit Union draft check if you had to pay for something substantial, like a down payment on a car, but day-to-day purchases and payments were made with cash. Having a check in your possession was a big deal, and you wanted to get it off your hands as soon as possible—before the dog ate it or one of the kids spilled cherry soda all over it.

At the corner grocery store, you might run a tab and settle up once a week or when it reached a certain dollar amount—if they knew your family well. Then there were personal checks, and the approval process that went along with writing one, like if you moved somewhere new and had to wait a few weeks before you could write a check.

Next, there were credit cards (Diners Club, anyone?) and ATMs, and you suddenly had access to funds even when your financial institution was closed. Well, you had access to some of your funds anyway, or at least enough to hopefully get through the weekend.

And, if you needed to speak to someone at your bank about your accounts, you went on your lunch break (maybe taking it early or late) or you took time off work to go into a branch, which was usually near where you lived or worked because that’s pretty much how you chose your financial institution. If you were lucky, you might have two or three decent choices.

Then the call center came along. And all of a sudden, you could speak with a customer service representative about some of your accounts and get your balance within the last 48 hours. Not all of your account information was available, but the call center made it possible to not schedule your working hours around your banking hours for all financial interactions.

Today, it’s a different world, right? Some of you are young enough that you don’t remember any of that. Lucky you—and yet, none of it has ever really gone away. And it quite possibly won’t, even in your lifetime.

Checks were supposed to die. They took too long to process and they had to be read by machines that broke down all the time and they had to travel. Like physically. Which paper doesn’t do all that well.

And yet, they haven’t—not at all. You may even still have someone that you have to write a check to once a month, because it’s what they do, and you like the service they provide enough to write one. But even beyond that, checks are alive and well–they just, for the most part, aren’t physical anymore. Instead, they travel as images and data, faster than ever before. Maybe you’re the one writing a check or maybe you’re the one receiving a check, like a refund check arriving in your mail. And, if you’re a Mission Fed member, you then use our Mobile Banking app to scan the check using your phone and make a mobile deposit directly into your account, without needing to call or visit a branch.

And sometimes checks turn into an ACH transaction (like your payroll direct deposit) traveling through an entirely different payment processing system to reach your account. Or you go into Online Banking and you make a bill payment and at the other end it pops out as…a check. Because that’s what whomever you’re paying takes, whether you know it or not.

What about ATM machines? They were supposed to become extinct, too, because people thought we wouldn’t need cash anymore. Aren’t we supposed to have a card or an app or use our Mobile Wallet for everything now? Except then you’re at that school thing, or you’re at an event, and they only accept cash. And you use the locator on your phone (on the website or in Mobile Banking) or you’re just walking up the street and there’s one of the nearly 30,000 fee-free ATMs you have access to as a Mission Fed member, and there you go, instant cash.

Or you have real cash on you that you need in your Checking Account A.S.A.P! Whether the cash in your pocket is from your garage sale over the weekend or a birthday or wedding present, you need to deposit it without missing work or moving around your busy schedule—and that’s when a deposit-taking ATM machine saves the day again!

Then there’s brick and mortar branches—which were also thought to be gone by now. When in fact, physical branches are just as important as ever. Mission Fed Branches provide knowledgeable representatives, member services like coin counters and locations throughout San Diego County to make it easy for members to access a branch when needed.

The future of banking is all about options, both old and new. ATM machines continue to get more features because they continue to be useful—whether that’s once a week or once a year for you. Checks and ACH get faster adding speed, ease and security to your banking needs. The true value of technology is when it doesn’t matter how it gets done. Just that it gets done without frustration.

At Mission Fed, we’re constantly evaluating new technologies, to either give you more banking options or to make the current features faster, safer and more convenient.

The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. Mission Federal Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided. References to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name in this article by Mission Federal Credit Union is for the information and convenience of its readers and does not constitute endorsement, control or warranty by Mission Federal Credit Union.

Doug LaFave

Doug LaFave

Doug LaFave is 1st VP of IT Strategy at Mission Federal Credit Union where he oversees many strategic technology initiatives. Doug has nearly 30 years’ experience in the credit union industry, with over 25 years in Information Technology. Doug believes technology greatly improves our lives—so long as we don’t actually let it run them.

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