Apps are killing B of A's drive-through teller lanes

The banking giant is closing car-friendly windows throughout the country, as more Americans bank via smartphones.

By Aimee Picchi Aug 22, 2013 12:12PM

A customer visits an ATM at a Bank of America branch in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 18, 2007 (© Chuck Burton/AP)Technology is taking its toll on the drive-through teller lanes.

Bank of America (BAC) said it's closing some of the car-friendly lanes, although it declined to specify how many will be shuttered, reports NPR. The reason? Mobile banking and online services are reducing the need for the drive-through lanes.

While millions already bank via mobile phone, that number is expected to keep booming. Last year, 33 million Americans used mobile banking, which projected to almost triple to 96 million by 2016, according to Aite Group.

One in six smartphone owners use their device to transfer money, pay bills and check balances, Aite Group found. And with more employers using direct deposit, some bank customers have reduced the need to visit a teller or use a drive-through window.

Indeed, Bank of America's decision to shut down some drive-through teller lanes raises the question of whether this marks the beginning of the end for an 80-year-old tradition. One of the first drive-through teller lanes was highlighted in a 1930 issue of Popular Mechanics, which noted the "thief-proof" slot in the teller's window. 

But not everyone is thrilled with the idea. 

David Molter, 83, told the Charlotte Observer that he's leaving Bank of America after learning about the teller-lane closures. "I’m distressed," he said. "I think it’s a bad decision."

On the other hand, some banks are implementing drive-up ATMs with more services, Mercator Advisory Group director Ed O'Brien told the newspaper. Those include ATMs with real-time video feeds to tellers.

For Molter, who described himself as having a bad knee and a non-ATM user, even a $50 gift card from Bank of America to Darden Restaurants' (DRI) Oliver Garden couldn't convince him to stick around. He has switched to a rival with drive-through service.

Bank of America said none of the tellers are losing their jobs and that customers will have access to ATMs. 

Still, the strategy could backfire, given Americans' reliance on driving. As NAB Research analyst Nancy Bush told the Observer: "People are used to doing business from their cars."

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Aug 22, 2013 1:15PM
I hate Bank of America as much as I hate Walmart...
I truly believe if there were no other banks or credit unions I would simply bury my money in a can out back.

Aug 22, 2013 2:29PM
Not everyone has or wants a smartphone. And remember smart phones can be hacked. I prefer to pay my bill in person and get a receipt. Eliminate any problem later.
Aug 22, 2013 1:53PM

Forget drive through.................Bank of America should just close it's doors forever. 

This has to be the worst corporation that the human race will ever have to deal with.  It is garbage from the basement all the way up to the top floor.  Comparing garbage to bank of America is giving garbage a bad name. 

Aug 22, 2013 2:15PM
I do not use smart phones simply because it's easy.  There is a hype about it.  I like the traditional way, write checks, write it down in the check book, add it up every month.  It gives me time to think about the money I earn and where I want to put it.  This fast easy way is an easy way for non thinking people. 
Aug 22, 2013 2:11PM
What's next? First we were pitched the wonder of ATMs. Then, banks started charging to use an actual live teller. I'll bet the ranch, in a few years, they'll start charging fees to use these apps. I already deal with one bank, Santander, that has the unmitigated gall to charge $10.50 to make on on-line payment for my car loan, which I will never pay. In fact, they're the last company left I write a check to. I look at it this way. I can pay .42 cents to mail them a paper check, which costs them money to process, or pay their exorbitant fee to make a payment. Every other institution I deal with, from credit card companies to insurance to even my electric company, allows me to make a on-line payment for free. Why TF would I pay a fee to Santander to do the same?
Aug 22, 2013 2:13PM

I left Bank of America one year ago, and I could not be more happy, especially in the last week or so it being in the news, sued  with security fraud, an intern death in London and now the closing of teller windows.  But I bet that behind all that there will be another increase in their fees.

All above are the reasons why it is the most disliked (hated) Bank IN America.


Aug 22, 2013 3:14PM
We better hope the internet never goes down for any length of time. We have become way too dependent.
Aug 22, 2013 3:01PM
Another example of lack of customer service by BofA. 
Aug 22, 2013 1:31PM
Have you ever been behind someone using an ATM machine to make a deposit?  You have to wait at least 15 -20 minutes for them to complete the transaction because people need to read every screen, hit multiple buttons, and separate out each individual check and bill (for cash deposits) as the machine will only take 1 check or 1 biill (for cash deposits) at a time.  I believe the drive up windows should remain open as they are much quicker (on average) then using an ATM.   ATM are really only best for cash withdrawals.  Anything else, the drive up window tellers tend to have quicker service.
Aug 22, 2013 2:40PM
Why not simply get out of the car, enter the bank, and make the transaction.  What time is saved idling the car engine while three or four other bank clients are ahead of you?  I've gone into the bank, done my transaction(s), and left while the same people are still waiting more often than not. Saved a little gas, got a bit of exercise, and had faster service.  That's not always the case, but it is better most of the time..
Aug 22, 2013 3:32PM
I wish Bank of America would simply close its doors to all locations and then quickly vanish.  B of A makes a mattress look good.
Aug 22, 2013 3:12PM
MORE LIES...AND PROPAGANDA......People aren't banking online at that rate this is a worthless article to try to get more people to Bank Online so you can kill more jobs at your Brick and Mortar banks
Aug 22, 2013 1:03PM
There are time when  you actually  need to  visit  the  bank  in  person, as well as  those people who  do  noting online  or electronically.  But then   BoA   is not  the  bank  people  who  do  no online banking will ever use,  they need good reliable  service.
Aug 22, 2013 2:29PM
i will do my banking elsewhere if this happens....and i am computer literate.
Aug 22, 2013 3:57PM
GOOD!! Bank of America sucks!!! Stealing homes, forced home loan modifications, don't get me started. Here's some advice, I have a friend going through a nightmare with them, they have tried to force a home loan modification on her, she hired an attorney and didn't sign it.  DO NOT sign one if you are going through this, you have rights. Hire an attorney and fight them. They claimed she was 3 months in default, in reality, she was 2 payments ahead.  They have done criminal things to her.
Aug 22, 2013 2:03PM
That's right America keep putting you digital money into the bank, and trusting them to give it to you when you need it. Ask the suckers in Cyprus, the crooks just took 20% of there deposits with no recourse. Soon enough it will come to us and those who think their digital dollars will be available are screwed. Banks have destroyed every gov't from the beginning of time and that will never change. Read the history of Greece and learn something. 
Aug 22, 2013 3:16PM






Aug 22, 2013 2:05PM

They all are blood way or the other , they will rip you off...

I was client for Wells fargo for the last almost 20 years ...with other banks..Wells fargo take over..

This year they started annual fee $ 25.00 for over draft protecxtion... that was fine.

Now they want $ 12.50  each time money is used... with their mistake $ 3.10 was taken from over draft protection..line of credit....and they want $ 12.50 charges...

Interest for the whole year this time has .09 ..nine pennijes..

Bank of America worst than others but they all are big to rip off consumers...that is only in America and it would never happened in  China...


Aug 22, 2013 2:15PM
That is really stupid.  They could aly make more money ripping off customers i they set up a toll both at the entrance to the drive up aea charged $10.00.  People who still bank there will nt bal t another fee.
Aug 22, 2013 4:30PM

Close down the whole sorry company for all I care... they suck AND blow!!!!   

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