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As banking adapts, so do the clients

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two months ago, the banking experience looked much different than it does now.

Lobbies were open to customers, lenders held one-on-one-meetings with borrowers, and face-to-face interaction was common.

That is all a thing of the past, at least for the time being, as coronavirus-related restrictions have forced banks to quickly retool the way business is done by switching over to an almost entirely electronic system.

Electronic banking is nothing new, as many lenders had already integrated comprehensive online services. But New Mexico industry leaders said the pandemic forced some customers to finally learn to use the available tools.

“I think what we’re seeing is because of the crisis people are using the technology that has been in place that perhaps they didn’t want to use before,” said Joe Christian, president and CEO of Nusenda Credit Union.

Christian said he does not believe traditional banking will go away once restrictions lift – instead, he believes clients will be comfortable with a wider variety of tools to get in contact with their bank.

Robert Chavez, president and CEO of Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union, said the way clients interact with the bank has completely changed due to the pandemic and its associated restrictions, like the ongoing stay-at-home order and forced closure of nonessential businesses.

“More of our members are interacting with us via the telephone and calling for what their balances are, things like that,” Chavez said. “We’re seeing a little bit more volume with our online channels. More deposits being done using mobile devices.”

Even before the virus struck, Chavez said SLFCU was making an effort to add new electronic capabilities every year – a trend he says will continue. There are plans to roll out mobile loan applications and person-to-person money transfers this year. That’s all in correlation the increase bankers are seeing in mobile banking across all demographics.

“With this pandemic, people are going to need to be able to pay for goods and services more remotely or more electronically than they have before,” Chavez said.

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