How commercial lenders in Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties are adapting to the coronavirus
It may not be “a wonderful life” right now for many, but North Bay banks are creating measures to do all they can to safely and efficiently provide their customers with one of the United States’ most precious resources now — money.
These precautions and enhancements also apply to the banks’ own branch employees, as this essential industry tries to navigate the coronavirus outbreak.
Many banks are allowing more ways for their customers to make transactions as well as consistently disinfecting their branches. Some banks limit the number of people in the branch at any given time and shortened their hours. Others have even waived fees for transactions made at other banks.
Novato-based Bank of Marin has implemented a social-distancing policy that only allows for two customers in its branches at the same time.
“We’re seeing our customers adhering to less lobby traffic,” said Brandi Campbell, Bank of Marin’s director of retail banking, who has 30 years of experience in banking. “I think they have comfort in knowing we’re open.”
Since the teller stations are 3 feet apart, the bank has also staggered the front-line workers, closing stations in between them. All tellers are wearing protective gloves, and other bank employees are encouraged to do so.
For customers who want to drop and run, the branches are also collecting deposits made at the night drop box twice a day before the opening and at closure. It used to be checked once a day.
Like most banks, the Bank of Marin is seeing increased traffic with its online services.
Expanding mobile deposit options
For people on the go, the mobile deposit application was adjusted to allow for higher deposit amounts up to $50,000. That’s double what the maximum used to be before the coronavirus outbreak.
Comerica Bank has also found that elevating its digital commercial banking services has immensely helped in this period of social distancing.
“We have electronic means to deliver deposits via check capture devices, and yes, we are becoming more creative with ways to stay in touch with our customers,” Comerica Senior Vice President Chris Thomson said from his Sacramento office, referring to using mobile devices like smart phones to make transactions. “Zoom meetings are becoming a big thing.”
Customers insisting on showing up in person at the bank will find only three customers at a time are allowed in the branch. If necessary, they can wait in the vestibule or in their cars and receive a call when they can enter the branch.
Like Bank of Marin, Comerica branch hours have shortened to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to alleviate the chance of the virus spreading. Customers are also encouraged to use ATMs.
Comerica also urges its customers to keep an eye out for fraud activity on their accounts — another potential headache caused by the global pandemic.
“We know that in times of stress, bad people try to take advantage of the situation, and unfortunately, the current pandemic is no different,” said Paul Benda, senior vice president of risk and cybersecurity policy with the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. “Banks focus on cybersecurity and have good protections in place for their customer data.”
Benda suggests American banks emphasize the “multi-factor authentication” on all accounts. This could include using multiple security question to verify those who want access to the account.