When I turned nine, my grandmother gave me a bright yellow, circa 1980 Robie the Robot Bank from Radio Shack for my birthday. When I placed a coin into Robie’s hand, he lifted it to his mouth and swallowed my change, keeping it safe for a rainy day in his metal belly. The best part was always the little robot dance he did afterwards. I loved that little guy and was stunned by his cutting-edge technology as a kid. I remember thinking, as he twirled around on the floor, “Man, I bet we will all keep our money in robot banks in the future.”
Well, 30 years later, I found myself wondering where a person could find a robot bank these days. I was able to find my old friend on eBay and, with my phone’s one-click shopping app, I easily ordered him and arranged for him to be mailed same day. Suddenly, I realized, maybe I wasn’t wrong all those years ago about the future of banking. While we may not be moving towards larger, fancier versions of Robie the Robot to accommodate our financial needs, the future of banking certainly lies in two of his key characteristics: device-based banking and mobility.
As more people adopt smart phones, the importance and potential of mobile banking continues to grow. Many banks have created banking apps that allow customers to access their accounts, pay bills, spend money and more.
One innovative app that’s out there is PNC’s Virtual Wallet. Users can clearly view a calendar of deposits and bill due dates to stay on top of their finances and even deposit money into their virtual piggy bank by shaking their phone.
ING DIRECT’s robust phone app is also quite futuristic as it not only allows users to monitor their ING accounts but also transfer money to friends and family by simply “bumping” phones.
Another futuristic app is Chase Bank’s Quick Deposit phone app, which allows users to deposit a paper check by simply taking a picture of either side of the check with their phone’s camera.
In 2007, Umpqua Bank released a short video, called “Branch of the Future” that showed a potential future of financial services. This video focuses on the ease of banking from mobile devices and the seamless integration of those devices into those at the bank or at home. As mobile banking apps continue to improve and the world becomes more trusting of technology when it comes to banking, the reality of Umpqua Bank’s “future branch” grows closer.
Unfortunately for all of us children of the 80s, Robie the Robot Bank himself probably won’t play much of a role to play in the future of banking. However, the phone that I used to order and pay for him on most likely will.
What would you like to see banks add to their mobile banking apps?