Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Automated updating of pass books

Now it will become easy to get the pass book updated, no waiting in long queue at the branch counter. You have to just punch a few keys at the ATM. Public sector banks are ahead from their private sector counterparts in installing the ATM for updating pass book. Banks are interested in offering passbook updating through ATMs this would free staff for marketing of other products.

In countries like Spain, UK, Canada and Argentina this facility has proved popular in these countries and will reach in India by April next year, said Mr Manjunath Rao, Country Manager, Sales of Financial Solutions for NCR Corporation India.

Company is providing ATM machines and offers management services to banks such as SBI, HDFC and HSBC.

Amongst the customers pensioners are the most satisfied with this facility. Mr Rao said, “In Spain, where our ATMs have this, pensioners have been very happy with the results. In fact, passbook is like an identity and most of them want it synchronized with their banking transactions.”

The cost of ATMs will increase by about 25 per cent from the current levels, which are upwards of about Rs 6 lakh, depending on the kind of the machine. The technological changes have to be done for updating passbooks like changing the interface of the ATM (the ATM screen), bar coding in the paper or match stripe to identify the customer, thermal printing and good quality paper.

As service providers can remotely manage the ATMs, it is possible to predict beforehand when the stock of paper is diminishing or report similar other glitches, Mr Rao said.

Mostly the private banks have been one step ahead of their public sector counterparts when it comes to technology. But not in this time Mr Rao said, “We have had enquiries from some large public sector banks. For them passbook is a social responsibility. They cannot do away with it.”

For public sector banks, automated updating of pass books through ATMs would free up staff for cross selling and other marketing activities, said a senior official in charge of personal banking at a large public sector bank. This becomes critical in today’s scenario, as most banks are focusing on increasing their fee-income, the official added.

Private Banks give passbook only when customers ask for it. But they do send regular quarterly or monthly statements and additional statements as required by their customers.

Mr Aspy Engineer, Vice-President, Alternate Channels, Retail Banking, Axis Bank, said, “If we offer statement printing at the ATM it is an additional interactive feature for the customer. It is quite a cost to have an additional printer and to ensure that papers are stacked and so on. Also, unless it is a paid service, it may get misused.”

It is also possible to install a standalone machine in the ATM kiosk for updating the passbooks. NCR is exploring both possibilities jointly with some banks, Mr Manjunath added.

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