Past and Future of Banks & Banking

Part One?

Scarcely a decade ago, banking was still a relatively cut-and-dried business. Except for your convenience, it didn’t make much difference which bank you dealt with: interest rates, loans and other services were pretty much the same.

All that has changed. Today, thanks to continuing government deregulation and superheated competition among all sorts of financial institutions, banking is in the throes of a revolution and important changes are taking place constantly. “What you have now is a free-for-all,” says one industry analyst. “Virtually any kind of business can go into bankling, while banking is making important inroads where it has been forbidden before.”

The battle to woo customers, especially those with good incomes and/or substantial amounts of money to invest, can be followed in online advertisements and broadcast commercials every day. One institution upstages another with higher interest rates, more lavish “free gifts” or more tempting promises of attention from your “personal banker.”

Many institutions offer their clients “instant access” to their money through conveniently located, 24-hour machines and online access. These electronic conveniences provide cash on command, even on a deserted street at 2 a.m. when you’re broke and need money for a taxicab to get home. Some banks, indeed, make it clear that they prefer their less affluent depositors to use the machines regularly, even during banking hours — so that the banks can reserve the costlier services of human tellers for those with enough money on deposit to maintain “express” or “priority service” accounts.

Go to the Part Two