[WRITING SAMPLE FOR A BANK BLOG.] Where did the idea of check clearing houses come from, you ask? (Okay. We know you didn’t ask.) You’re in luck! We spent some time researching it, and here’s what we found.
We can thank those crafty Romantics and Victorians for their meticulous attention to detail. They started clearing checks informally in the 1770s and formally during the 1800s. What became the Banker’s Clearing House was the world’s first formally conceived payment system; but, like most great ideas, it developed out of need. And it started in a tavern.
Woe to the risk of a bank’s walking clerk! Once upon a time (this is not a fairy tale), when a business or a person received a check in exchange for a good or service, the recipient would deposit it into their bank account. How, then, was the bank on which the check was drawn supposed to know that their customer wrote a check drawn on their bank and issued to a vender or person in exchange for a good or service?
To “clear” the check, the bank would send a clerk who presented it in personto the originating bank. There, the clerk would exchange the check for cash, and return the cash back to the bank for which the clerk worked.
As check writing grew, banks formalized the role of the clerk who walked the checks and cash back and forth into the title of “walking clerk.” They walked the streets of London with large stacks of cash, which sounds like a risky proposition.
For an example of the above using the The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire’s characters, click here.
The walking clerks recognized the inherent risk of their jobs, so they started meeting in Five Bells Public House, a tavern, at Lombard Street. Their employers saw the benefit of this, and they formalized the walking clerk’s arrangement as the Banker’s Clearing House.
Charles Babbage, famous polymath and, to some, the “Father of the Computer”, observed the clearing house’s process and wrote about it(pages 126-7, entries 172-3).
“In a large room on Lombard Street, about 30 clerks from the several London banks take their stations, in alphabetical order, at desks placed around the room; each having a small open box by his side, and the name of the firm to which he belongs in large characters on the wall above his head. From time to time other clerks from every house enter the room, and, passing along, drop into the box the checks due by that firm to the house from which this distributor is sent.”
Each day at 5 p.m. the Inspector of the Clearing House positioned himself at the front of the room where the debtor banks went up and paid what they owed. Then the banks that were owed money went to the front to collect their payments. If everything worked according to plan, the Inspector was left with a zero balance.
This process made its way to New York in 1853 on the fourth floor of the Bank of New York. The Yankee traders evolved the system by adding a 70-foot-long oval table. One banker sat on the inside while another stood on the outside. When the clearing house manager initiated a signal to begin, the clerks on the outside would take one step forward, where they would perform the days’ transactions. It took approximately six minutes.
Today checks are cleared electronically through the Federal Reserve Automated Clearing House System. Whereas it used to take weeks for checks to clear, now they do so overnight. Most banks, including Andover State Bank, make a certain amount of money available immediately. This is known as funds availability, and banks base it off of a customer’s existing balance on deposit as well as the ongoing relationship between the bank and the customer.
[The historical information gathered here is adapted from Martin Campbell-Kelly’s essay “Victorian Data Processing: Reflections on the First Payment Systems”, published in Communications of the ACM in October 2010; as well as other sources, including the website for the Cheque Credit and Clearing Company.]
[WRITING SAMPLE FOR A BANK BLOG.]
Hello! Hopefully you found us by researching new checking accounts in the area. If you did, we’ve done the first part of our job well. But we need to keep the momentum going!
We’d like to introduce ourselves: We’re Andover State Bank. We’ve been banking in the area for more than 100 years. Owned and operated locally, we live in the communities where we work. Everyone says banking has been commoditized, that everyone offers the same products. Like our competitors, we offer checking, savings, certificates of deposit, mobile banking, and a whole host of financial products. But we do more.
Here are things we offer that they don’t:
1. Relationships. We get to know you so that when you call or come into the bank, we’re already on a first name basis.
2. We don’t have a call center. When you call, you get a person. And the person you get is trained to reset your passwords for online accounts, check your balances, and talk about the Shockers game.
3. Real people. After you open an account with us, you might have questions about downloading our mobile app to your smart phone. Come in! Sit down at one of our desks. We’ll take you through it step by step.
4. We understand your life is busy, complicated. We’ll work with you and around your schedule to accommodate your financial needs.
These aren’t all the things we offer, but we think these things are essential to community banking.
So now let’s put you in the driver’s seat. Assume you’re here for personal checking. Here’s what you need to know--the basics, the essentials:
We’ll need a current copy of your driver’s license. Ideally we’d like that to be a Kansas Driver’s License with your current address.
1. If you have an old address on your identifying document, we’ll ask you for a credit card statement or a utility bill that verifies your new address.
2. The rest of your identifying information we will verify through CheckSystems and other resources our policy requires us to use to verify you.
Opening a checking account, if you’re new to Andover State Bank, takes about thirty minutes. Some of our pros can do it faster, but block off around 30 minutes. This gives us time to get to know you, collect the information we need to satisfy our quality control team, and review the bank’s terms and conditions.
We’re happy to send information to a PO Box, but we also need a physical address on file.
Other important notes:
1. We have two locations. The one in Andover, 511 N. Andover Rd, can issue instant debit cards instantly.
2. Otherwise, debit cards take 7 to 10 business days to arrive.
The process is simple. We’ll collect basic identifying information, get you set up, and have you banking with us in no time. If you’re from out-of-state, expect a bit more time while we discuss options to verify your address.
After reading this post, we hope you decide to bank with us! Drop by. We’re super friendly; some of us think we’re really funny; and we love community banking!
We hope to see you soon.
[WRITING SAMPLE FOR A BANK BLOG.]
Today we want to talk about ways to protect yourself when companies announce their security systems have been compromised. As we’re sure you’re aware, Equifax, one of three consumer credit reporting agencies, recently announced that cybercriminals breached their security systems and stole approximately 143 million consumers’ personal information.
Your security is our priority, and we will continue to monitor the situation.
One of the benefits of banking with us is that we build long-term relationships with our customers. We know you by voice, by name, by car, by swagger, by ball cap, by high school, by coffee choice, by baseball team, by high school affiliation! Even still, you will find our service representatives doing their due diligence to verify your identity. We use several methods, many of which you are unaware of at the time we use them.
The simple fact is this: We know you. Think of us more like Cheers and less like Sting.
If you’re concerned about the Equifax breach, we want to share a few things you can do to protect yourself and monitor you credit. And while we’re at it, we also want to remind you about some of the security measures we offer so you can easily monitor your personal accounts.
(1) Check to see if Equifax suspects your information has been compromised. Equifax has set up a website for you to check if your personal data has been compromised. WARNING: Through this site, Equifax offers one year of free credit monitoring. If you accept the offer, the firm may try to bar you from future legal action through a binding arbitration clause. This particular issue is ongoing, and may change over time. Consumer Reports offers a nice summary here. Another option, and perhaps the better of the two, is to visit the Federal Trade Commission website, which offers several suggestions about what to do if you’re personal information has been compromised.
(2) Check your credit reports. Use www.annualcreditreport.com. The website, operated by the three consumer crediting agencies, fulfills their obligation to the Fair Credit and Transactions Act, which requires firms to provide Americans with three free credit reports per to year. You can view your reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion for free. If you see unusual activity, you may be looking at identity theft.
(3) Some sites suggest placing a credit freeze on your files. Credit freezes make it harder for criminals to open accounts in your name, but keep in mind that they do not protect your existing financial services accounts from fraudster.
(4) If you place a freeze on your credit, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit files. Fraud alerts warn creditors that you may have been a victim of identity theft, and that they must take extraordinary care to verify you before they continue with credit-related requests like credit card or loan applications.
(4) Monitor activity on your checking and savings accounts as well as your credit cards. Use online banking to review your account transactions.
(5) File your tax returns early. Tax identity theft happens when fraudsters use your Social Security number to get a tax refund. Open letters from the IRS immediately.
Today you can access your balances from anywhere at any time. Additionally, you can program your devices to monitor and alert you whenever your transactional accounts see activity. Here are ways you can take advantage of Andover State Bank’s products to monitor your accounts.
(1) Online banking. Check your account balances regularly. Review your transactions. If you see abnormalities, research them. Google the name of the merchant. Have other consumers complained about the merchant? Is there a telephone number associated with the transaction? If so, call it.
(2) Follow your accounts on our mobile application. If you don’t have it, download it for free from the App Store or through Google Play.
(3) Set up text message alerts. We will text you your balance every morning so you know what your balances are when you start your day.
(4) Set up email alerts. We will email you every time you have an approved or declined transaction run through your account. This includes 3 a.m. emails about Netflix that show you’ve paid your monthly fee.
These are simple, easy ways to use free tools to monitor your personal transaction and savings accounts. In a day where the speed of technology outpaces our application of it, we must all take vigilant action to protect ourselves from those who wish to do us harm.
[WRITING SAMPLE FOR A BANK BLOG.]
We get asked quite often about how to build or improve your credit. Credit is, after all, a tricky thing, especially if you’ve never had credit before. The word itself originates in the Latin creditum, which translates as “loan.”
Credit is borrowed money that you can use to buy things when you need them. Someone, a grantor, like a bank or credit card company, will grant you credit as long as you agree to pay them back.
There are four types of credit:
(1) Revolving credit: With revolving credit, the grantor gives you a maximum limit, and you make charges to it. You carry a balance, or “revolve the debt”, and make payments. Most credit cards are revolving credit.
(2) Charge cards: These look like credit cards except you must pay off the balance at the end of each month. This is the original concept for American Express.
(3) Service credit: Another way to think of service credit is to think about your utility bills. These agreements are all examples of credit. They give you electricity or mobile phone service so long as you agree to pay them each month.
(4) Installment credit: A lender loans you a specific amount of money, and you agree to repay the money and interest with regular installments of a fixed amount over a set period of time. Car loans and mortgages are two examples of this.
Life is expensive. Because people are not sitting on a large bundle of cash to buy a new house or car, they borrow the money from a lender with a promise to repay over time. How you manage your credit determines your chances of receiving a favorable interest rate when the time arrives.
Think of it as a risk assessment. Would you loan money to someone who has a terrible record of repaying you or others? Lenders will consider your income, how long you’ve lived where you live, how long you’ve worked for your employer, and what kind of assets you have before they decide whether or not to loan you money.
But if you’re young, you probably have no credit history. It can difficult to establish credit.
Here are a few ways you can start or build credit:
(1) Co-signer. This is the easiest way to enter the credit market. If you have a parent or grandparent who’s willing to co-sign on a loan or credit card, you will instantly enter the credit market. You must be cautious, though, because how you manage your credit directly affects the credit of your co-signer.
(2) Apply for a small credit card. In the era of multinational financial institutions, applying for a small-balance credit card might be the way to go. Large institutions, because of the sheer size of their transactional business, can afford to take more risks than smaller banks. Companies like Chase or Capitol One might grant a $500 or $1,000 to a student who’s trying to build their credit.
(3) CD loan. Commercial banks offer their customers certificates of deposit, or CDs, as risk-free, interest-bearing notes. You deposit a specified amount of money with a bank, and the bank promises to repay the amount, with interest, on a certain date. Some banks might allow you to open a CD so they can hold it as collateral against your loan.
Whatever your need to borrow money, one of the first things your loan officers will ask you about is your plan to repay the loan. Before you visit a bank, ask yourselves the following questions:
(1) How do you plan to spend the money you borrow?
(2) If you simply want to build credit, why?
(3) What is your overall objective?
(4) How do you plan to repay the loan?
(5) What other factors do you think your loan officer needs to know?
We hope you find this information helpful! To learn more about the kinds of consumer installment loans we offer, visit our website here.