Each of the Indian banks has a tag-line that has something to say about the customers. Each of the Indian banks runs marketing campaign, once in a while, that has something to say about the customers. They speak about the primacy of the customers – how they care about the customers, how customers are central to what they do and all such stuff. Those are the theory, and now, let us see the practical part of it for the savings account customers.
I have taken the example of ICICI bank for below points (https://www.icicibank.com/service-charges/regular-savings-account.page)
Number of ATMs/branch/customers
In a month, ICICI bank charges savings account customers for more than 3 transactions/metro locations and more than 5 transactions/for other locations for using non-ICICI bank ATMs. Charges are steep – Rs. 20 per financial transaction and Rs. 8.50 per non-financial transaction. So, you would think it is better to use ICICI bank ATMs. Well, you can use it 5 times a month for free. After that, back to Rs. 20 and Rs. 8.50.
I would want to know one metric – How many ATMS/branch/customers does ICICI bank put up? The same metric for every bank.
Banks have turned ATM transactions into a cash cow machine for them. Savings account customers keep doing ATM transactions beyond the stipulated limit and they keep paying the charges to the bank.
Currently, banks have no incentive to put up more ATMs as they continue to get passive income from saving account customers for using other Banks ATMs (though the difference is limited to 2/month) and even their own ATMs, whose numbers do not increase at all.
Can RBI stipulate the norm for each bank to have a minimum number of off-site ATMs/branch/customers and make it public?
(India has about 2.1 lac ATMs (1.1 lacs on-site and 1 lac off-site). I have never been able to understand what purpose does an ATM at a branch serve other than non-banking hours? For a country of India’s size and population, we actually have only 1 lac ATMs (!!!) after removing on-site.)
Penalty to banks for non-availability of cash and non-functioning ATMs
Customers get charged for so-called more usage of ATMs. What about charging banks for non-functional ATMs? As per this article dated 24 May 2016 RBI found one-third of ATM machines non-functional. I went to the ATM, found it to be non-functional and not having cash, and spent my time, efforts and money finding another ATM. Why should not the bank pay a charge to me?
Can RBI stipulate the norm for each bank for a minimum uptime of their ATMs and make it public?
Charges for visiting the bank
Now, we know that we pay for using ATMs and 1/3rd of the ATMs do not work, at times. So, we go to a branch to transact. ICICI bank tells us that we are welcome at the base branch only 4 times a month. We are valued customers, so we have to pay value to them to deposit/withdraw for more than 4 times a month at the base branch.
God forbid, we need to deposit/withdraw at the non-base branch, we start paying right away except for the first cash withdrawal of the month.
Banks decide on the credibility of the customer basis CIBIL ratings. Banks are, I suppose, in the service industry (though it is more like an Oligopoly). Why cannot customers rate banks and branches? Why should the service ratings not be made available at the entrance to the bank and online? Banks should compete to get customers basis some real service parameters and not limited to tag-lines, marketing campaigns and their geographical presence.
Can RBI set the norms for transparent service ratings of bank and branch? Basis what customers perceive and feel and say.
I have to pay for the ATM, for the branch visit; as banks have to pay for technology, software, replenishment etc. But when I ask for interoperability of my account across banks, I am told that this is technologically not possible and anyways not stipulated by RBI.
If mobile numbers are portable, if all bank accounts are seeded with Aadhaar, then why am I stuck with a bank? Why cannot I get a move on without the paraphernalia of account closure and new account opening and all?
Can RBI set the norms for the interoperability of bank accounts?
I am not allowed more than 3 free ATM usages and not allowed more than 4 free bank transactions in a month. I am not so sure what is the value of using a bank account, if not for digital transactions.
If I have to use digital transactions only, what is the use of the bank at all?
If unfortunately, I am not a digitized customer, then surely the bank is running with my money, as I visit the bank often.
I cannot leave my bank and I cannot rate them either.
So much for financial inclusion and customer-centricity. If banks are investing in technology, they are also saving in manpower; why should customers keep paying in perpetuity for their software?
Surely, Indian banks WIN and savings account customers LOSE (and I have not even come to minimum monthly balance charges).