Safer than hiding it under the floorboards…
// Posted by Sam on 01/17/2013 (11:24 AM)
Let’s play with some verbal association: when you hear the word “bank,” what comes to mind?
For me, its pretty easy: I see a heavy, stately two-story stone building with four granite doric columns and intricate stonework above the thick brass doors. The facade might have an inscription like “FIRST NATIONAL RESERVE” and have V’s instead of U’s–you know what I mean. According to the Mostly Economics blog, “The architecture is not merely about aesthetics, of course; banks are designed to convey strength, stability, and security to would-be depositors.” The form of a bank has always fit its function: back in the day, they were built to embody the ideas of strength, integrity, and security. People wanted brick-and-mortar assurance that their money was in good hands. Apparently, that mode of thinking has been completely phased out…
Today, more banking happens online than in person. Aside from just commercial markets, indexes, and global trading, more and more personal banking is happening in cyberspace. It’d be difficult to find a major bank today that does not offer an iPhone app to “bank on the go.” This author alone has made use of Citizens, Citibank, and Wells Fargo apps. These apps, however, are more like extensions of physical branches rather than self-sustaining online banks.
Here’s a video demonstration of the GoBank app:
According to Wired magazine, the banking industry has evolved even further to include GoBank, a “new bank that has no branches, just an app.” (Wohlsen) The article details a new venture by Green Dot, the popular prepaid debit card company that is popular among those with no bank account, to create a completely online bank that is accessible only through the app. “Our bank was created from scratch,” Green Dot founder and CEO Steve Streit said at GoBank’s San Francisco unveiling. “It’s not a mobile app that was bolted onto an online version of a brick-and-mortar bank…the GoBank app offers all the features and services expected of a 21st-century checking account, from paying bills to checking balances to depositing checks by smartphone camera. But Green Dot hopes GoBank’s single-minded focus on the mobile user experience will peel away customers who manage most of their day-to-day lives through their phones and are tired of waiting for their current banks to catch up with that idea.” Sam Altman, Green Dot’s VP of mobile services, says the market for the app, which is comprised mostly of people under 40 who have an iPhone or Droid and are dissatisfied with their bank, is larger than one may think.
So, is GoBank a good idea? Are there any serious societal implications that we can extrapolate from people using GoBank? Will people start switching their banking to a completely online service or simply use it along with their existing bank accounts? Do you trust cybersecurity enough to invest your entire paycheck into an exclusively online bank? The economy has always been intangible, a figment of the imagination necessary to make the world turn…