by August 1, 2009 0 comments

You need a bank statement. Would you go down to your local bank branch? Not
in this day and age.

Three-quarters of Indians with a bank account still bank at the branch. But
if you’re reading PCQuest, you’re probably in the top five percentile of Indian
tech users. And so you use ATM, online, and mobile services.

So what can you do online? How Web-friendly are banks?

Most public sector banks haven’t yet got their online act together. They may
have websites, but the services are limited and erratic (with exceptions).

Most international and private banks are active online, and have tried hard
to wean customers away from the branches.

They need to try harder.

I need a bank statement for 2008-09 (for tax returns-interest details). Can I
go online and download it?

Simple, isn’t it? Here’s the scorecard.

ICICI Bank: Yes. I could download any statement, text or spreadsheet,
within the past five years (I didn’t try earlier than that).

Kotak Mahindra Bank: Sort of. Three months at a time, PDF format. I
could get statements even for three years ago.

Citibank: Sort of. But six months at a time, and only up to 18 months
back. For an older statement, I had to make a phone request.

Standard Chartered: No, not beyond 90 days. But ask and they’ll email
a statement to you (they may charge you).

HDFC Bank: No. Six-month limit. But you can ask for a statement by
email, which reaches you in a few days.

American Express cards: Nothing online beyond three months. Amex is a
strictly paper-and-phone company.

Public sector banks: I tried UBI and SBM: no luck at all. I was asked
to go to the branch.

That’s a simple, but good test: for, the few who let you get the statement
online quickly also have good, simple self-service for most things. Such as
setting up funds transfer, or subscribing to services like bill payment. At
ICICI Bank, it’s all electronic. At HDFC Bank, I needed to visit the branch even
for ‘setting up third party transfer.’ And that’s a pity, given that HDFC Bank
pioneered so much of e-banking and mobile-banking in India.

Insight: It isn’t about tech. They all have the tech, the core banking
apps, web services middleware, gateways. It’s about listening more to the
customer-than the IT department.
They all have ATMs, but how many work at making them simple and quick? That’s
about customer needs, not tech. Why ask unnecessary questions that add to
keystrokes and time, such as ‘savings or current account?’ (Hey-doesn’t my own
bank know I have a savings account?) Why can’t they give me a single-button
quick cash option? (A few are doing that now.)

That’s the challenge, for the tech-enabled banking sector. Help customers
help themselves, and save resources and employee time. Give quick and convenient
access to services online. Such as statements: put them online, without silly
restrictions (and save tonnes of paper).

So even before they get onto advanced tech deployment-mobile banking, for
instance-banks can use plain old 1990s tech to make lives easier for customers.
That’s how they can scale up, as ICICI Bank has shown: despite mostly average
customer service, their technology lets customers help themselves.

Prasanto K Roy
is president and chief editor of CyberMedia’s ICT Publications. You can find him

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