Yeah I don't get it either, I had my dollarmites account from grade 1, my Mum had to sign forms to say I could participate. At 12 she took me to another bank to open an account in my name, she had signing authority on it so she could add money etc. I had to have a bank account at 14 when I started working to have my pay deposited in it which is a pretty normal age to start working here.
I actually don't use on line banking so I do go to the bank if I need certain things, but really that's a couple of times a year at most
I don't think you need a physical bank either. That's actually not how they're going to do their banking in the future anyway. We do everything online. Right now I don't make that an activity with the kids, I think we'd all find it really boring, but they know they have accounts. They keep their own saved up money separately, in their rooms.
But you can turn the in-bank experience into an online one and it will do the same thing.
I think credit unions are great, but it's really hard to beat the convenience of the bank I use.
We do take T to deposit money into his account at our local bank. It's not like the most exciting thing ever, but he does like the change machine and the lollypops. I think at this age being able to actually go and see them do it is more tangible and easier to understand than just showing him an online bank statement. I agree that physical banks will probably be gone by the time our kids are adults, but I do think that they are slightly useful for providing a sort of concrete age appropriate learning experience. Not a huge deal though. I wouldn't do it if I had a personally compelling reason not to.