Reasons Why There’s Still A Need For Physical Bank Branches


As of 2021, around 64.6% of citizens in the US use online banking. That’s up significantly from 61% in 2018. Ever since the outbreak in 2020, people have flocked to digital banking services. In fact, many only use the internet and no longer visit physical bank locations.

Yet, there is an argument for keeping physical bank branches and credit unions. While online banking is quick and convenient, it does have some downsides. The reasons go beyond accommodating older generations, too. For instance, citizens can’t withdraw substantial amounts of cash online or through an ATM. Lots of ATMs have limits, making more significant cash transactions only possible at a physical bank.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Banking Industry

The pandemic forced banks to heighten their virus control and awareness. While most banks and credit unions closed during the initial wave, they eventually had to open their doors. To keep their employees and customers safe, they had to get creative. They employed techniques such as plexiglass barriers, social distancing, and mask-wearing. Beyond that, there was a heightened emphasis on sanitizing money. To limit the spread of the virus through currency, financial institutions began disinfecting it. Since cash is notoriously germy, sanitizing it does a lot for public health. It’s common for banks to use ultraviolet light or heat treatments to disinfect their money. Of course these new hygienic practices don’t apply to currency only; when it comes to overall bank cleaning, new measures have been implemented to ensure safety for the public.

Despite the ongoing threat of the virus, physical banks still have a strong presence in some communities. While online banking is sure to continue to rise, physical banks still have their place. There are still lots of people that aren’t accustomed to managing their finances online. They’re mainly from older generations, and they prefer interacting face-to-face.

In-Person Customer Support

Many citizens prefer troubleshooting financial issues face-to-face. They’re able to get a better grasp of their problem and how to solve it. Even the most tech-savvy can still struggle with online support. According to a study by Unblu, online customer service such as chatbots were rated among the worst. Many find it easier to meet with someone to discuss issues instead of typing them into a chatbox or email. Online banking support lines can also feature long waiting times.

Safe Deposit Boxes

For those wanting to protect valuables somewhere other than their home, physical banks are invaluable. They allow citizens to store expensive items and important documents in safe deposit boxes. These will ensure the safety of whatever the customer chooses to keep inside. That can come in handy in case of a house fire or break-in. Online banks can’t offer such features.

Same-Day Money Orders and Cashier’s Checks

Some purchases require ‘cleared’ funds, meaning you need a money order or cashier’s check. For online banking customers, obtaining these can be a struggle. They need to place an order for a cashier’s check or money order online. These aren’t instant and can take a few days to a week to arrive. That’s where physical banks come into the picture. Anyone can show up and request a money order or cashier’s check and get it the same day. Physical banks also provide access to personal loans, which have lower interest rates than credit cards.

Online banking is safe, fast, and convenient. Many have found that it’s easier to manage finances online. Yet, others still value their local banks, and they have a strong presence in their community. Physical banks also have many services that you can’t replicate online. These include safety deposit boxes, large cash withdrawals, troubleshooting, and more.


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