I remember the 80’s, 90’s, and even the early 2000’s when banking was primarily an in-person activity. I would drive to the bank, use a pen that was chained to a table to fill out a paper deposit or withdrawal slip, and then wait in line for the next available teller (which always seemed to take too long). There were no smart phones or tablets to preoccupy you while you waited. You just had to stand there. You maybe did a little people watching, or talked silently to yourself, or talked to others inline if you were a people person.
These days I rarely visit a physical bank branch. Mobile and online banking are so much more convenient. I think I walked into a branch once this past year and that was only because I had to deposit a check from an insurance claim that was too large to deposit electronically. Normally, if someone gives me a physical check, I just snap a picture of it with my phone and the money magically ends up in my account. If I need cash, I hit up the nearest ATM. And, if I need to write someone a check, I usually enlist my bank’s bill-pay service to write the check for me.
This CNBC article says U.S. banks are on pace for record branch closures this year. The author mentions several possible reasons, one of which is the rising popularity of electronic banking. Whatever the reason, I think it’s safe to say my days of regular bank line people watching are over.