Bengal PSBs to encourage mobile banking among customers

by Sohini Bagchi    Apr 22, 2013

mobile banking

Even though a number of states in India are gradually shifting their preference from traditional or ATM transactions to mobile commerce, West Bengal is far behind, when it comes to any kind of transaction via mobile phone. Although many customers are aware that mobile is a more convenient way to transfer money and even buy and sell products, most people are apprehensive that security will be compromised in this platform.

This is in sharp contrast to other states such as Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Hyderabad and several other tier II cities where more customers are showing an increased interest in m-commerce. Public as well as private sector banks are assuring customers to do transactions with their smartphones and other mobile devices. Moreover most banks are now launching m-commerce keeping in mind that customers in the remote and rural areas will be benefited as they find it very difficult to rush to the ATM or the bank. For instance, recently, Airtel has signed up with Axis Bank and HDFC Bank for seamless mobile transactions. Similarly ICICI Bank has teamed up with Vodafone for mobile payment. There are many more examples of mobile payment initiatives of banks to encourage customers adopt the mobile medium as a vital instrument for financial inclusion.

In West Bengal, just like several other states, we are partnering with telecom service providers to take care of data security to provide better firewalls and data encryption systems.
-Shrawan Kumar, General Manager – IT, Allahabad Bank

However, PSBs in West Bengal are apprehensive because of concerns regarding data security and connectivity. According to Rathin De, General Manager – IT, United Bank of India, “West Bengal is generally a laggard when it comes to technology usage and adoption. So a greater level of awareness on mobile banking has to be created by banks in this part of the country.” However, he added that mobile banking is the future and we are striving to reach out to our customers both in the city as well as in rural areas with m-commerce solution.

At present, the bank has more than 25,000 users registered for the service and 250-300 new customers get added every day for services such as mobile transactions and fund transfer. Recently, over 1,300 transactions were done on UBI’s mobile-banking platform. Similarly, Allahabad Bank has 22,000 mobile banking users across its customer base (Source: TNN). “We are extremely upbeat on mobile banking as it has the potential to further transform the banking landscape. While it is up to the government and telecom providers to address the connectivity issues are by faster bandwidth like 3G, banks in West Bengal, just like several other states, we are partnering with telecom service providers to take care of data security to provide better firewalls and data encryption systems,” says Shrawan Kumar, General Manager – IT, Allahabad Bank.

Agrees R. K. Chhattani, Deputy General Manager – IT, UCO Bank. “By and large, customers have limited knowledge and awareness of online and mobile security. In many cases although the awareness is there, they do not know how to prevent simple attacks. However, banks with the help of its vendors and partners are implementing technology and protective measures to safeguard their interest,” he says.

Bengal PSBs say that to increase the adoption level of mobile banking banks are rigorously educating their customers through various awareness programs. “Customer awareness program should be a part of every bank’s security strategy,” says Chattani adding that the bank is putting up hoardings and banners on mobile banking across major cities and towns in Bengal and also organizing seminars and open houses to increase customer engagement in areas of mobile transactions to help our customers overcome security concerns.

We are putting up hoardings and banners on mobile banking across major cities and towns in Bengal and also organizing seminars and open houses to increase customer engagement in areas of mobile transactions.
-R. K. Chhattani, DGM – IT, UCO Bank

Meanwhile, a recent survey by eBay India reveals that 3G is driving mobile commerce in Indian telecom market. Muralikrishnan B, country manager, eBay India, said that m-commerce adoption has increased significantly in the country due to multiple factors such as enhanced 3G penetration and availability of affordable smartphones. The survey reveals that nearly half the respondents or mobile commerce users were from the non-metros especially from states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu with most using this platform buy tickets, pay bills, shop online, and transfer funds. However, to be at par with the m-commerce revolution, West Bengal has to clearly perk up its m-commerce skills and interests. Experts also believe that the situation will improve once the Central and state government schemes like NREGS and pension plans for the elderly are make available from the mobile phone. A similar progress has been noticed in districts like Hooghly and Purulia in West Bengal.

As Kumar points out that getting customers on mobile banking platform is certainly a major challenge. But once a person starts using mobile banking, they will realize how easy and convenient it is to use this platform, he says.