If you’re among the 90 percent of Americans with a bank account, you’re not exactly storing a personal stack of bills under lock and key. Your money is data — a series of ones and zeros. Sometimes, you convert these numbers into greenbacks at a nearby ATM, but mostly, you just shuffle them in and out of your account, with things like electronic bill payments, direct deposits, debit card transactions, PayPal trades, and maybe — if you’re old school — the occasional paper check.
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Banks provide other things too, including, well, a guarantee that your money is safe. But the thing to realize is that so much banking happens digitally, and in many cases, the world’s digital banking services aren’t even operated by banks.
For more than a decade, a company called Yodlee has helped big banks power their online services, including Citibank and Bank of America. And other new-age companies, such as Moven and Simple, now offer banking services you can use even if you don’t have a direct relationship with a traditional bank. Which makes you wonder: Do we even need banks?
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