What Will Happen to My Safe Deposit Box if Banks Go Away?
The “digital adoption” of multiple industries has led to an increased amount of convenience for consumers and a tremendous amount of revenue opportunities for businesses who participate. Companies like Amazon, Zoom, and UberEats have made it possible for consumers to stay home while conducting business as usual. Several different industries are capitalizing on digital adoption and one of the largest industries to do so is the commercial banking industry. With the extra push from Covid-19, banks are answering the question they have been asking for the last 10 years, in an increasingly digital climate, are bank branches truly necessary?
For the past several years banks have been exploring the tremendous savings they can maintain by closing brick and mortar branches in exchange for “digital options.” To offer an example of such savings, branches cost banks $4.00 per transaction, while on the other hand, a mobile transaction costs just $0.19 per transaction. With hundreds of transactions happening per day at every bank location across the country, one could understand why a bank like Chase with 5100 locations would entertain shuttering branches. Consumer feedback also provides an insight into the rise in popularity of mobile banking. A Consumer Affairs report showed that eight in every ten Americans prefer banking digitally than visiting a physical branch (1). The Financial Brand predicts that 88% of consumer-bank interactions will happen through smartphone by 2022 (2).
The introduction of Covid-19 helped further prove that branches may not be as necessary as they once were. During this pandemic, according to the Wall Street Journal, teller transaction dropped by 30%, however, bank profits did not match the decline in transaction (3). What this suggests is that consumers do not need physical bank branches to conduct normal bank business. Over the past several years mobile banking has gone mainstream as upwards of 70% of smartphone users have used some form of mobile banking and/or mobile finance management. CNBC reports that during 2020, global digital payments will reach an annual value of $726 Billion (4). Additionally, according to The Financial Brand, by 2022 the number of retail bank branches is projected to drop by 36% (5).
The Wall Street Journal posted an article stating that later this year there will likely be announcements from several large banks about additional closings of physical branches as they move towards a more digital based presence. With all these branches soon closing, what does this mean for safe deposit boxes?
When banks shut locations, they reach out to current safe box clients via the mail with a letter to come retrieve their belongings. Clients will have a finite amount of time to collect their valuables before the bank will be forced to drill the boxes, empty the contents, and likely ship said contents to uncollected property for their respective state. Safe deposit boxes at banks will become scarce thus paving the way for private safe deposit box facilities like Guardian Vault in the Pacific Northwest.
Private safe deposit box facilities like Guardian Vault may be a new concept to many, but they do offer attractive perks that banks do not. Private facilities often offer higher levels of security and privacy, more accessible hours, more flexibility for the lessee, and some of them offer full coverage insurance for their Safe Deposit Boxes. As banks close and people look for safe options to store valuables outside of their home, private facilities are a solution for those looking for privacy, safety, and security.
Over the next several months there will be a noticeable shift in the landscape of how commercial banking is conducted. As digital adoption continues to progress and more and more businesses look to trade their physical location platforms for online and digital platforms, consumers will have to adjust with the market and look elsewhere for comforts they may have gotten accustomed to from the brick and mortar models. As banking changes and branches start to disappear, consumers will have to look to alternatives to bank branches for safe storage of valuables away from home. Private facilities will be the answer.
(1) Consumer Reports, https://kommandotech.com/statistics/online-banking-statistics/
(2) The Financial Brand, https://kommandotech.com/statistics/online-banking-statistics/
(5) The Financial Brand, https://thefinancialbrand.com/66228/bank-credit-union-branch-traffic/