Even Monopoly offers electronic banking.
Buying properties, paying rent and settling tax bills can be performed with the swipe of plastic card. No more paper currency cluttering up the game, which plays more quickly with the new method.
The speed and convenience of electronic banking has prompted growing numbers of consumers to sign up for those services at their banks. The electronic services offered by banks also have created another benefit.
More than half of Bank of Oklahoma's customers have opted for some form of online banking, said Derek Martin, vice president of product management for the state's largest commercial bank.
A constant growth: While the growth of online banking isn't exploding as it did in earlier years -- it grew threefold between 1999 and 2003, according to the Federal Reserve -- it continues to expand, Martin said.
"The rate of growth has become constant," Martin said. "For new clients coming through the door, it's an expectation."
The expanding base of online-only customers has produced another benefit for financial institutions -- a greener bank. Arvest Bank, Oklahoma's third-largest bank in terms of deposits, estimates that its 100,000 customers receiving e-statements rather than mailed paper statement eliminates more than 34 million tons of paper usage annually.
"It's a win-win-win for the banks, the customers and the environment," Arvest Vice President Jason Kinsey said.
Arvest processes about 20 percent of its statements electronically, and hopes to boost that to 30 percent by year's end. The company launched its electronic statement offering last spring by giving away a Toyota Prius to one customer who signed up.
Kinsey said future growth won't be pegged to promotions, but to education and explanation.
"We've actually more than doubled our e-statement customer base since last spring," Kinsey said.
Environmental impact: The environmental impact is more than just account statements, Kinsey said. Online bill pay and increased use of debit cards cut back on the use of paper checks, which must be transported and handled by the bank.
While electronic banking offers several benefits for banks, it also comes with new responsibilities, Martin said. Bank of Oklahoma, for instance, offers 24-hour access to bankers as part of its effort to serve clients accustomed to the instant availability of their banking services.
The transition to online banking came not as a response to online-only banks, but to other online businesses, such as Amazon.com and Apple's iTunes, Martin said. From 2005 to 2007, the percentage of U.S. banks offering electronic banking rose from about 32 percent to about 58 percent.
The availability of third-party software packages also has allowed smaller community banks to offer electronic services to its customers.
"We know customers want access and control of their accounts and that's what these are all about," Kinsey said. "It's because customers want better easier and faster access. That's why we do it."
Nevertheless, many customers continue to want hard copies of their statements, brick-and-mortar branch offices and paper checks. Arvest Bank and other banks will continue to provide those services for years to come, Kinsey said.
(Source: The Daily Oklahoman)By Don Mecoy, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City)