In the ground floor customer service area of the Sydney central branch of the Commonwealth Bank in Martin Place, Mr Phillips explains to the children the system of withdrawing account funds from a bank branch.
It’s fascinating to learn, or even to remember, the convoluted procedure involved in the withdrawal of cash from passbook savings accounts, up until the late 1960s. Before that time, a record of each bank customer’s signature was kept only by the branch at which the account was held. Without making prior arrangements, customers were unable to withdraw funds at branches other than their own. It wasn’t until December 1969 that the Black Light Signature System was introduced at the Commonwealth Bank, and withdrawals could be made at any branch with ‘black light’ equipment. Customers’ passbooks contained their signature, invisible to the naked eye and readable only by the ‘black light’. Customers filled out withdrawal slips, the signature on which had to match the invisible signature in the passbook, before cash would be issued.