INTERVIEW WITH REHAN WAHEED, PERSONAL BANKING MANAGER, MEEZAN BANK

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

PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.

REHAN WAHEED: I am working in Meezan Bank as Personal Banking Manager, Gulshan-e-Iqbal Branch. I worked for two years in trade finance and advances. Then I looked after operations of the branch. During that period, I officiated several branches as branch manager as well including two new branch openings.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT PROGRESS OF E-BANKING IN PAKISTAN.

REHAN WAHEED: In Pakistan e-banking has progressed only to some extent in the last few years. People are still not very well aware of using the e banking facilities. The customers prefer conventional way of doing their banking transactions by visiting the banks personally. One of the reasons is our culture and the second the security risk of the transactions. There is a lot of potential that needs to be explored through awareness among the customers. However, e banking is undergoing a radical transformation. The symptoms are new e-products and new e-channels offered by the private banks in Pakistan. The banks are striving fast to improve their ability to think strategically about better IT investments and infrastructure. The four factors quickness, easiness and cheapness and more importantly globalization have become more important due to the busy schedules and competitiveness and usefulness of all the business operations. In this busy life when one has to spend the major part of the day from 9-7 in his office, it is difficult for a person to take a short leave and visit the bank for cash withdrawal or deposit or payment of utility bills.

Meezan Bank is offering a range of e banking services to its customers including but not limited to online statement view, fund transfers, pay order and cheques book request. Meezan Bank has recently introduced utility bill payments through e banking as well.

These facilities have given Meezan Bank an edge and competitive advantage over its peer group. With these e banking facilities the customer base of the bank has increased and the bank has posted a profit after tax of Rs585 million for the first quarter of 2011.

PAGE: WHAT STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN TO ENCOURAGE CUSTOMERS TO USE ELECTRONIC BANKING MEANS?

REHAN WAHEED: The banks offering e-banking services need to develop aggressive marketing plans and campaigns to attract the customers for using alternative distribution channels for their banking transactions. Besides this, the customers should also be made aware of these new technological advancements. The young blood has a better understanding of e banking and with the passage of time when the new generation takes charge the awareness would be across Pakistan.

Meezan Bank has a prime focus on converting its customer on alternate distribution channels through various marketing strategies including call centre, branch network, and SMS to customers etc.

As per the statistics of the banks operating in Pakistan, during the third quarter of 2010, the volume and value of total e-banking transaction reached to 56.42 million and Rs5.5 trillion respectively. Comparatively the transaction volume and value is on the very low side as compared to any small country, which is more advance in technology.

PAGE: WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT TRAINING BANK EMPLOYEES IN E-BANKING IN PAKISTAN?

REHAN WAHEED: It is quite obvious that this is an era of technological advancement. The staff being hired in bank does have background of e-commerce during their studies. However, a continuous and comprehensive training should be planned for bank staff and must be updated at regular intervals. Particularly in Pakistan, the staff's attitude towards e-banking should be developed and the training is necessary to understand the effectiveness of e-banking technology.

Meezan Bank is playing an important role in training and development of its employees through a dedicated training department with special emphasize on staff training and awareness on e banking including, ATM/Visa Debit Card, SMS alerts, internet banking etc.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT COST OF E-BANKING BOTH FOR CLIENTS AND FOR BANKS IN PAKISTAN.

REHAN WAHEED: The cost of e banking for the banks may include the fixed assets cost such as installation of ATMs and CDMs, infrastructure cost for internet and mobile banking, cost of back up assets for disaster recovery plan and last but not the least the cost of maintenance. As far as customers are concerned, they usually bear the annual fees for these e banking facilities. They may also bear the cost of specific transaction such as payment of utility bill through internet etc.

PAGE: WHAT CHANGES HAVE SURFACED AFTER INTRODUCTION OF ATMS IN PAKISTAN?

REHAN WAHEED: I would say the introduction of ATMs has introduced "self- service withdrawal" where a customer does not have to interact with the bank staff. The ATMs have allowed the customers to get access and withdraw their cash as and when required specially on holidays and in emergencies.