When it comes to changes in how agricultural businesses deal with financing, physical banks will continue to be needed, especially for smaller business operations and local farming operations, as not every company is going to be digitally banking and doing business from long distance.

Rural Americans are no different than other persons of the nation who at least occasionally want to have face to face contact with a banker official or staff.

With the increase in size of ag businesses, the assumption has been that all their banking business would turn into a digital process and physical bank structures will become obsolete. The thought by many consumers and even many in the banking industry is that “physical bank branches will soon go the way of Blockbuster video stores,” noted Ruth Razook, founder and chief executive officer of RLR Management Consulting, a consulting firm servicing community banks nationwide.  

According to a 2015 American Bankers Association survey, bank branches were the preferred banking method of 17 percent of people. Digital did come in at the top of banking methods, but doing banking at a physical site was second. It beat out ATM, mobile, mail, and telephone banking.

Customers still want a personal branch experience, but those physical banks have to keep pace with customer expectations that change over time, according to Razook.  

“The first way that banks can improve their branch locations is by increasing the collaboration between digital and human banking. The bottom line is that people like options and banks need to provide them. When customers attempt and fail to make a deposit or open an account online, they need to have the option of calling the bank or even walking into the branch,” per a recent article that Razook wrote.

Razook compares banks to Apple stores. “Apple has a great online presence and customers can do everything from buy new products to update software online. However, Apple stores are constantly flooded with customers looking to speak to personnel about issues and advice. This is a powerful selling point for Apple as a brand; a technology company with a successful, physical store.”