Sandy Knocks Banks Back to Pre-Electric Era

Ledgers make a comeback in hard-hit areas
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2012 3:33 AM CST
Sandy Knocks Banks Back to Pre-Electric Era
People withdraw money from a mobile ATM machine set up in Hoboken, N.J.    (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Superstorm Sandy has sent banks in some of the hardest-hit areas back to a level of technology their 19th-century customers would have been familiar with, the Wall Street Journal finds. Some of the hundreds of banks operating in New York and New Jersey have closed all their branches, but others are doing their best to remain open, scrambling to get enough cash on hand and recording transactions using pen and paper. Others have sent out mobile ATMs to aid customers in areas that have reverted to a cash-only economy.

In New Jersey, the Two River Community Bank is using ledgers and keeping powerless branches open by relying on sunlight. "If we know the customers, we let them in—doing it very old school," its chief operating officer says. "That is one [of] the benefits of community banking, we do know all our customers and you can provide that type of service." When the power comes bank on, the region's banks face the mammoth task of assessing the damage and working on ways to finance the rebuilding effort and deal with hard-hit borrowers. (More banking stories.)

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