How technology has played a part in improving personal banking services

Of all the inventions that truly revolutionised modern life, the Internet surely ranks among the top 5 when it comes to utility. Its earlier use was restricted only to communication via email and Instant Messenger (IM), but slowly, it began to expand its reach into other areas as well.

However, India was a little slow in adapting to the Internet as a means to managing money or shopping. The hesitation in using the Internet to bank or shop stemmed from dubious online security – people feared that their account details would fall into the wrong hands. However, online sites and banks soon began to use the strictest security measures, and slowly, Indians adapted to the wonders of the Internet.

Today, banking extensively uses the digital medium to reach the farthest corners of the country with the click of a button. Technology has eliminated long lines at banks and made customers more self-reliant with their finances. It ushered in three major shifts in usage:

1 Banking over the phone.It was the first innovation totake place when banks became accessible over the phone. As the name suggests, this was a way for customers to conduct banking transactions over their landline phones or mobile phones, using an IVR system with the bank. While such transactions as checking the account information or cheque status could be done by clicking the relevant digits, customers could also request a conversation with a customer care official. This was the first step banks took in eliminating long queues at the branch.

2 Internet banking.It truly revolutionised personal banking in India; for the first time, customers were not required to step into the bank to transact. It was a big bold step in personal banking services, where banks gave customers a lot of control over their finances. Hitherto, the bank had to facilitate money transfers, cheque book requests, opening savings and fixed deposit accounts, etc. But with Internet banking, the physical presence of the bank soon became a thing of the past for many people, as they began to use their laptops and mobile phones to access their bank accounts.

3 Using the mobile phone for everything related to banking. With ever increasing use of technology to bring the bank closer, the next frontier came with mobile banking apps that created the smoothest bank-customer interface. With mobile banking apps, there is no need to access the desktop version of the bank’s website. The app uses the phone’s tech to access the account, pay bills, make money transfers, function as an e-wallet, book fixed deposits, recharge mobile phone and DTH connections, and much more. Just a few swipes on the screen allow the customer to finish banking within seconds. Mobile phone technology is especially useful for customers in rural India, who may not have immediate access to a bank branch.[1]

The mobile phone as the personal bank

Today, the mobile phone is a one-gadget-does-all device that has transcended its earlier role as a mere communications device. In the era of instant messaging and social media chats, actual calls are not made unless absolutely necessary to do so. Smartphones, especially, have become an extension of our personalities. They let us work, have fun, keep in touch with the world and organise our lives in a systematic manner. Numerous apps and functionalities serve to make our lives easier to live.

Mobile phone technology today is reaching peak performance levels across such sectors as insurance, digital entertainment and banking, to name just three. Mobile phones have been a veritable boon for banking, allowing customers unbridled access to their finances while according full control over their money. Banks have been quick to tap into this precious communications resource by tailoring their apps to suit the needs of the savvy mobile phone user.

As per statistics, India’s smartphone industry is growing at a remarkable pace – it is estimated that one in three Indians will own a smartphone by the year 2017. This is a sharp rise from the year 2013, when merely 6.2% of the overall population owned a smartphone in India, which is expected to go up to 20% by the end of 2017. While the numbers of iPhone users are seen more in the metros, Android remains the favourite OS across Indian users.[2]

Mobile phone usage to transact banking is not restricted only to personal banking, however – today, banks are rolling out business banking services and commercial banking on the mobile phone, too. The Reserve Bank of India contends that mobile banking penetration is rising yearly in India[3], and banks are capitalising on customers’ interest by devising easy, seamless and secure banking apps for both personal and business use.

And so, today…

Technology has helped banks become ever closer to customers. It has helped banks personalise the entire personal banking experience, with minimal intervention required from a bank official. The only functionality that mobile banking apps do not offer in India today is depositing cheques over the phone – though it is only a matter of time before this feature becomes available as well.

Earlier generations of Indians today continue to be amazed and mesmerised by the many advances in banking technology in the country. The digital revolution in banking is helping scores of Indians bank from anywhere at any time, without the need for specialised knowledge. All the customer needs today is a working knowledge of their mobile phone – the banking app or digital website provides every banking service in an easy format that anybody can navigate. Plus, some banks are also offering banking in regional languages to include a wider base of customers.

Thus, the bank is now firmly ensconced in one’s pocket through their mobile phone. And a finger is all that is needed to bank daily, quickly and securely.

Keywords: banking, banking services





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