Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Mobile Branches, Coming or Going?

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Mobile Branches, Coming or Going?

Article excerpt

It sounds like a good idea. To reach small communities or senior citizens complexes that don't justify the cost of putting up a branch, you set up a trailer or a recreational vehicle with some ATMs, a teller, and a platform area, and bring the bank to each community a couple of days a week. It runs a fraction of the cost of a brick-and-mortar branch and can reach more people. So why don't more banks have mobile branches?

"In our society, mobility comes from the customers," sum rises Robert P. Fichter, vice-president at the Massachusetts Bankers Association. "So many people drive, and ATMs are everywhere. It's an interesting concept, but its time may have come and gone." He believes electronic banking has become the answer to reaching customers who don't have time to come to the branch. As for those customers, such as the elderly, who like to come into a branch and deal with an employee face to face, he says it comes down to, "Do you want to pay $4.50 for the privilege of talking to someone in person?"

John W. Baker, president of MBF Industries, Inc., a maker of mobile bank units in Ocala, Fla., gives an example of where mobile branches might work. "In Florida, there are over 1,600 communities and only about 450 have a bank presence," he says. "Many of these communities individually would not justify the cost of staff and facilities. However, using a mobile branch to service several locations with the same staff, it becomes cost effective." Other potential uses for mobile branches are: to serve low-income communities; to be on hand at community events; to help stationary branches on their busiest days; to provide disaster recovery backup; and to provide loan services on weekends at real estate brokerage offices. …

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