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I must tip my hat to the founder of The Mandalay Group for this thought inspiration.


We reside in a rural area of northern Wisconsin. More affectionately known as the Remote Outpost along Wisconsin’s northern border. According to the signs as you come into town from either the north or south, the official population is 487 residents.


That number is likely the number of permanent residents who are here 365 days a year. We have a plethora of second and third homeowners who are only occasional and part-time residents of this beautiful city on the shores of Lake Superior.


Our small town has two bank branches from two different banks. One of the banks is a Minnesota-based institution currently embroiled in a trustee fight board, while the other has its origins here in Wisconsin. Small town banks are nice and friendly, and the tellers know everyone and greet you by name when you use to walk into the bank lobby and conduct your banking business. These days, it’s all drive-thru all the time in our region for your banking business.


It was having now set the stage to an extent, a couple of thoughts to ponder. Our town is an area that continues to pride itself on personal service and a personal touch for banking and business. There is also a large portion of the community and likely the surrounding area that writes checks regularly, not only at the local retailers but also at big-box retailers.


Seeing as the writing of checks hasn’t gone out of style in this area, and I’m confident that both of the local banks continue to offer and sell books of paper checks and checkbook covers. The question becomes, why haven’t local banks become outlets and retailers for mobile phones? Mobile phones, your Apple or Android device is a financial tool, just as much as the checkbooks that the banks previously sold you. What would our futures look like were we to rid ourselves of the checkbooks and begin to use the everpresent mobile phone that we all carry with us? Mobile banking technology has the potential to offer affordable and low-cost mobile banking solutions to the billions of “unbanked and underbanked” people of our neighborhoods and around the world. There is also the opportunity to reduce the high fees paid by immigrants and foreign workers sending remittances to their families in other countries.


How soon before we begin to see the banks moving from offering toasters for opening an account to offering new account holders a new cell phone? Inquiring minds want to know.


The other banking related question has to do with the speed at which banks conduct their business. I remembered 30 years ago, a particular credit union to which I belonged, taking days and even weeks to process checks in our account. I see days and even weeks passing when we first opened local bank accounts here. Some businesses were fearful of even considering the use of electronic transfer of funds for payment of invoices. They insisted that they had to have someone write a check and have it sent via the United States Postal Service for you to receive compensation for services.


Now, thinking ahead to the banks offering its customers and clients mobile phones, the next question becomes, why aren’t the banks making investments in a global high speed decentralized internet type network? They, the banks, and banking institutions would be the immediate beneficiaries of just such a system. Likewise, they would improve their customer service and satisfaction.


In the growing world of 5g and increased decentralized internet capacity, we need to move from the old model and history of banking to a 23rd-century banking and financial transaction idea.


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