Bonnie and Clyde Never Used an ATM
turbotodd 100000388Y Visits (2121)
I'm not opposed to banks in general. I think they're kind of cool, especially those old ones I used to see growing up in north Texas, the ones that had the really big vaults with the huge crank spinwheels that you had to turn to open the vault door, and that were intended to keep out the likes of Bonnie and Clyde.
The rumor went that Bonnie and Clyde visited the small town I grew up in. I'm not sure exactly what it is they were doing there, although one would have to presume they were there to rob a bank. In an ironic twist of fate, the two people who played Bonnie and Clyde in the movie, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, apparently showed up in my hometown several years later as well...not to rob the bank, but to attend the movie premiere of the movie in which they were playing Bonnie and Clyde. Something strangely harmonically convergent about that.
I say all this because it reminds me of what banks used to be. They were very serious places (at least in Texas) where you kept all your money, and a place you had to actually go to get your money out. But like I said, I haven't been to one in years. My bank is a now a server located somewhere...well, I'm not sure where it's located. But I know I can't visit it, nor would I want to.
While all my friends and colleagues cooed about how dangerous Internet banking was, and how my money could be at risk, I threw all caution to the wind and put all my money online. It was kind of weird, because I couldn't really touch my money, and I couldn't go anywhere to access it, save for an ATM, because my Internet bank had no physical branches. It was just me, a Web site, and the ATM machine. Fortunately, far as I know, my Web site bank has never been held up.
I know my now deceased grandfather would have thought this whole idea very strange. He couldn't have related to the concept that his money could be somewhere in a virtual bank. I think he would have had a hard enough time with the concept of a real bank, of somebody else holding on to his money. But for it to exist in the ether...he'd probably rather chance it with Bonnie and Clyde.
Here's the thing about real banks that you don't get with virtual banks: The smell of the money. You might get a little whiff of it at an ATM, but at a Texas bank in the early 1970s, you could actually smell the money. There was also the wondrous sight of womens' bouffant hair-dos from bank tellers who smiled at you as you looked up at the counter and they asked you if you wanted a lollipop. Or better yet, the drive-through banks where you got to watch your money fly through the ground and pop out, all Jetsons-like, in one of those pneumatic tubes. I always wanted to shrink myself and ride in one of those tubes.
So here's the cool part about working at IBM: We have people who are helping reinvent banks as we know them. An article recently appeared in CMO Magazine entitled "Experience Preferred." In it, the author talks about how IBM and our experiential marketing partner, John Ryan, are using IBM technologies to create experiences and environments to help get people bank into banks (everyone, that is, except for Bonnie and Clyde.)
You can also get a sense of where banking is going by listening to our recent podcast entitled "The Future of Banking." In it, I discovered that many people often speed up when they walk past their bank branches...they apparently have a mental association with banks not unlike that of a visit to the dentist.
Me, I have a pretty positive impression of banks...except that one time in NYC when the ATM ripped me off, giving me $80 instead of the $100 I had asked for.
Where were Bonnie and Clyde then???