TECH 03

5/22/97

While researching this weeks column I encountered the most insidious and frustrating advance of the new age. . . The computer generated switchboard operator! The # button on my phone is slap wore out.

You have been doing electronic banking for years. It’s your friendly ATM machine. Arguably not as pretty, automated teller machine terminals work exactly like on-line banking from home. The chief difference being that your home computer won’t eject $20 bills on command. Someday.

Most banks offer, or plan to offer some combination of PC banking or internet banking. My own bank began their PC based program about six months ago. You’ve probably already guessed who was one of the first to hook up. It works great! You need not be on the internet, but you do need a modem to hook your computer up to the bank.

After installing the software, just click on the appropriate button and presto! No more waiting for bank statements. A fully updated account record is on your screen right now. Transfer funds, pay bills, order checks, or in some cases even apply for a loan!

Amber Ridgely, home banking manager for Chartway Federal Credit Union pointed out one benefit I hadn’t considered. The credit union saves time and money too! By staying home and doing your banking from the den, there’s one less person in line to keep the tellers hopping. Actually it’s more like thousands less customers making the hike to Chartway’s teller lines. Add Bank of the Commonwealth, Crestar, Signet and that’s tens of thousands of people not driving to the bank.

You may have noticed my list stops at the institutions that start with the letter “C”. I know, Signet starts with an “S”, but I looked up their world wide web site. Seems every single bank in town has this five step phone code process to reach a human being. Not all technology is good. If your bank starts with letters “D” through “Z” just give them a call to find out what type of electronic banking they offer. Sorry, I don’t know the extension of the party you are trying to reach.