INTERVIEW WITH VIJAY KUMAR, A BANKING TRAINER

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
May 23 - 29, 20
11

PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.

VIJAY KUMAR: I am a banking professional, having expertise in all streams of banking operations. I started my career with Bank Alfalah as operations officer. I worked on different positions in operations department and resigned from Bank Alfalah last year as manager operations. Currently, I am working as freelance trainer in areas of economics, banking and accounts and finance.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT E-BANKING IN PAKISTAN.

VIJAY KUMAR: Within a short span of time, e-banking has progressed significantly which is evident from the fact that as of December 2010, number of ATM's in Pakistan rose to 4,734, number of branches offering real time online banking grew up to 7,036 which is 74.19 per cent of total branches and there were 13.19 million plastic card users. If we compare this data to year 2000, there were only 206 ATMs, number of branches offering real time online banking were 322 and there were only 0.2 million plastic card users. The volume and value of e-banking transaction during October-December 2010 reached 56.42 million and 5.5 trillion respectively. This accounts for 38.94 per cent and 12.27 per cent of total retail payment transactions in terms of volume of value respectively.

Currently, consumers are little aware of huge benefits of e-banking. There is great need of bringing about awareness among consumers by organizing seminars, promotional campaigns through electronic media and through availability of e-banking guidelines in bank branches. Banks should keep charges of online banking to as minimal level as possible because it will also be beneficial for banks to promote e-banking because it reduces operating costs of banks significantly. Go simple is a way to e-banking.

Banks should avoid using heavy graphic and product promotions on e-banking website links as it reduces speed of transactions and results in dissatisfied customer. Although banks have invested heavily in technology to make it fast, easy and convenient but still more is to be done.

PAGE: IS IT NECESSARY TO TRAIN BANK EMPLOYEES IN E-BANKING IN PAKISTAN?

VIJAY KUMAR: Almost all banks are providing training to their employees and currently bank employees are well-equipped with technical knowledge of e-banking. What needs to be done is to bring more awareness in consumers regarding the merits and use of e-banking especially regarding the safety features available since most of the customers who are not benefiting from e-banking have lack of trust in this new banking channel because they feel that e-banking is highly unsafe.

Secondly, a major chunk of users is well aware of security measures, but does not know how to use it.

PAGE: IS E-BANKING MORE COSTLY?

VIJAY KUMAR: Cost of e-banking is reasonable for clients because it is easy to get card once instead of paying for cheques daily and all other relevant charges of e-banking are also reasonable. One of the issues clients are facing is lack of awareness of actual charges, which they usually come to know when they are charged of it instead when they avail the service especially in case of using credit card. As far as banks are concerned, e-banking has significantly reduced costs of banks because it is rather easy to once invest in technology instead of in-store branches at various locations.

PAGE: HOW BENEFICIAL ARE ATMS IN PAKISTAN?

VIJAY KUMAR: It has brought the concept of anytime, anywhere banking in Pakistan. On one hand, it has made banking system very quick, stylish, reliable, and less costly and on the other it is meeting growing needs of all streams of customers. Now you do not need to drive long to visit branch, wait in long queues and waste time instead your all banking needs are just a click away.

It has reduced the operating costs of banks; banks have reduced number of tellers and customer service officers. Branch management has to only focus on those activities which actually require physical presence of customers in branch. It has introduced the concept of mobile phone banking, branchless banking and introduction of mobile branches which revolve around the city in a vehicle to cater the banking needs of customers. Shortly, it will introduce theme of "Green Banking". Green banking also known as eco-friendly and social conscious banking is newly introduced concept. In its first phase green banking encourages online banking to get benefits of less paperwork, less mail and less drive to bank.