Plainbelt’s Bank customers irked over banking services in the district

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The job card holders of New Bhaibari and Rajabala Area Employment Councils (AEC) have expressed their dissatisfaction with the State Bank of India (SBI) branches across the Plainbelt area for their terrible services in dispersing the wages under various Central government schemes. The aggrieved public informed that till date three job card holders have fainted while standing in queue under the pressure of heat and crowd, yet no alternative counter has been opened to speed up the payment.

While Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi has left no stone unturned to push his government’s flagship programme- Digital India, to steer the nation towards e-governance, e-commerce and most importantly of all e-banking, whereas, non-traditional competition is posing a challenge to traditional banking services. A new Capgemini report ‘World Retail Banking Report 2018’ on September 21, 2018  showed that globally just half of the customers are satisfied with their banking experiences, and nearly a third of customers (32.3 percent) are willing to consider big tech companies for financial products and services.

The report based on insights of customers and senior banking executives in over 40 countries, including India, charts the current perspectives and potential evolution of traditional banks amid the continued emergence of big technology and financial tech players in the financial services space.

The findings suggest that retail banks need to collaborate and personalise customer experience, as satisfaction was notably higher among those customers who had been offered personalised digital experiences proactively (49.1 percent) than those who had not (39.5 percent). This was indicated by the research conducted in collaboration with Paris-headquartered global non-profit Efma.

The report also surveyed banking executives about the main causes of industry disruption. The most-cited factor was rising customer expectations, with nearly three out of four executives (70.8 per cent) stating that positive experiences in other sectors mean customers now expect more from their banking provider. A majority of executives (58.3 per cent) also said that regulatory pressure was a cause of disruption, while 54.2 per cent identified the increasing demand for digital channels as a factor. A significant majority of banking executives (70.8 per cent) think they can generate non-traditional revenue via collaboration with major technology companies.

In Meghalaya too, the banking services are deteriorating. The banking institution after the demonetization has exposed the poor banking system in the state, with its existing Core Banking Solutions (CBS), designed for ‘class banking’ and not for ‘mass banking’.

According to experts, the CBS has to be geared up for small-value and large-volume transactions. The rule that a higher volume reduces cost per account does not apply here (because the cost is constant). Once more rural customers come into the picture, the Know Your Customer (KYC) norms would also have to be spruced up. At present, the KYC norms have been simplified and not all fields are filled up, also, the anywhere-banking facility may not be used by rural customers.

Meghalaya- where many still prefer to save their money in piggy banks and many still hide their cash and other valuables at various secured corners in their respective houses, all have now been compelled to open bank accounts.

Lately, all government payments too are being transferred via bank accounts. More than for security, this is an attempt to move towards India being a nation where cashless transactions are the norm rather than the exception. However, all transactions via banks still lack detailing to verify the source of payment.

With regard to education loans, students have to move from pillar to post even for the small loans below four lakhs of rupees. It is often seen that the applicants are forced to mortgage which is against instructions. Many of the students have to give up their dreams for higher studies because of the attitude of the banking institutions.

The Meghalaya Government, if required should encourage banking of government transaction via cooperative banks of the state which will not only release the pressure on the nationalized banks, but will also improve services.

The Credit – Deposit ratio in the state too needs to be beefed up which will in turn be a fillip to the economic growth of the state. The banking services in the state should also be extended to the grassroots who will benefit in an environment where there is no need for the enactment of a Bill to recover bad loans.

RBI needs to take special attention on the lending formalities in this Hill State, where many banks refuse to sanction loans where landed property is taken as mortgage in areas where the Special Land protection Act is enforced. Also, more than car loans, the banking institutions here should extend their services to support the now defunct Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), to formulate more entrepreneurship ventures, which are both environmental friendly and where employment avenues are high, otherwise all the brainstorming in any of the bi-monthly monetary policy review will not benefit Meghalaya.

Once it is done, such congestion in the banks will be reduced and particularly the state owned banks will be in better position, and force the SBI to perform or they can be black listed for poor services like the present one for the Plainbelt’s Bank customers.