I bank at USAA, and the other day, I went to their El Paso branch at the Fountains at Farah. Imagine my surprise when I pulled up and saw the above sign on the door, and the doors locked.

I tried to keep my freakout level low because I didn't know if there was a problem with the bank itself or if they were going to just move to a different location, or what the heck. I used one of the two ATMs that are still operational on the outside of the building and spoke with a couple of soldiers who were also using the ATMs.

I asked them if they were worried about the branch closing, and one soldier said that he didn't use the branch that often, mostly did banking online or at the ATM, but it was disconcerting to not have the branch open. The other soldier said he never used the branch and didn't really see the need for them.

Personally, I like having a person I can speak to if I have a question. I do some banking online, and use the ATMs a lot, but USAA says on their website that "A business decision has been made to close each of the financial centers, with the exception of our main lobby in San Antonio, Colorado Springs, Annapolis, and West Point." They tell customers that they are moving toward online, mobile, and telephone channels instead of bank branches.

I'm completely bummed out because it's just one more way that face-to-face transactions are going the way of the dinosaur. The good news is USAA is in no danger, they are just moving toward the demographic that is comfortable with digital products and not brick-and-mortar transactions.

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