As we end the year, it’s interesting to reflect back on how Bay Area banks impacted the way we bank in 2012. Technology, that in previous years was in testing mode is now a reality. Mobile banking by smart phone, where your smart phone can take a photo of your check and send that image to the bank for instant deposit is a reality. The ability to obtain electronic alerts from your bank on your phone or tablet to let you know your balance is precariously low and you should either make a deposit or transfer funds from another account to avoid an overdraft. For businesses, using remote deposit capture, the days of walking or driving your checks to the bank to deposit have been replaced by a scanner, the size of a shoe box, connected to your desktop computer. Your finance or accounting staff simply runs the checks through the scanner and the image is sent electronically over the internet, securely, to your bank. Depending upon what time of day you scan and send your deposits the funds avaiability may be a matter of hours, not days. Interest rates are at historic lows. This is a good news/bad news story. If you are purchasing a home or other item and making payments, your interest rate is the lowest in generations. Conversely, if you were hoping to live off the interest from your savings, well, the interest rates you are earning may buy you a latte at a coffee shop and perhaps a muffin or scone. Sadly, the Federal Reserve’s policy of keeping interest rates at historic lows through 2015, serverely hurts our elderly who have saved for retirement and have to dig into their principle to live. Sure the stock market may offer higher returns, but greater loss potential as well. Home prices in many parts of the Bay Area remain out of reach of many people, young and old in 2013 and beyond. This equation is simple supply and demand; the demand far outpaces the supply and that imbalance is reflected in the steady rise in the price of housing. Nationwide banks, community banks and credit unions will continue to compete for your business and ultimately, you will be the beneficiary. That is what makes this country great, businesses attempting to improve the quality of their product and the delivery of their service, meet head on, to offer you the best value and in doing so earn your business. It’s up to you to determine what that value is and where you can best benefit. And so, we look at the achievements of 2012 and hope for many more in 2013. Have a very happy New Year and please be safe tonight, there is a lot of activity going on out there. Oh, and by the way, how about those Giants!