Services at public sector banks are likely to remain disrupted today as all the nine unions under the aegis of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) went ahead with their nationwide strike pressing for various demands, including no write-off policy for non-performing assets (NPAs) of corporate loans, declaring wilful default of loans as criminal offence and implementation of recommendations of Parliamentary Committee on recovery of NPAs. Other demands include not passing on the burden of corporate NPAs on bank customers by hiking charges and ensuring stringent measures to recover bad loans.
While some of these demands may look genuine, the fact remains that apart from being a big inconvenience for lakhs of customers for no fault of theirs, such strikes also impact customer transactions worth thousands of crores of rupees. Apart from strikes, banking services may remain disrupted for a variety of reasons, including some technical problem, non-availability of the Internet, natural calamities like flood, earthquakes, etc, among others.
Thankfully, with the advent of online banking as well as growing use and acceptance of technology, disruption in banking services should not not be a cause of great concern for you. You just need to be tech-savvy and a bit organised.
Ashish Kapur, CEO, Invest Shoppe India Ltd, says, “Traditional banking is undergoing a very rapid and disruptive change. With the rapid expansion of ATM networks and advent of online banking, e-commerce, online access to account statements, digital payments for services and taxes as well as e-wallets, the need to go to your branch for any banking transaction has diminished considerably. It is entirely possible now to conceive of doing banking both as a borrower as well as a depositor for years without ever going to the branch. Though, needless to say that one has to be well organised and reasonably tech savvy for accomplishing this.”
However, in a scenario where public sector banks are preferring to go on a strike rather than improve their working style, getting organised with your banking needs and understanding online methods is the need of the hour. It has become imperative for each one of us to get familiar and start using the following methods of financial transactions as soon as possible:
1) Credit Cards: Credit cards are a very safe and organised way of making payments. “They are safe as all leading credit card companies offer a dispute resolution process and have a hot line for blocking and replacing stolen or lost credit cards. In addition to this, the mandatory PIN or OTP system provides an additional layer of protection. They help you get better organised as you have a record of all your expenses at the end of the billing period. As cash dealing gets minimised, so does the chance of any theft or embezzlement,” informs Kapur.
2) ATM: This gives you the flexibility of withdrawing cash at any time of the day or night. This significantly reduces the need to travel to a branch.
3) E Wallets: These are a very convenient and safe way of making small payments without involving cash and more importantly without physically travelling to deliver or receive cash.
4) Online Banking: This is an extremely useful tool for making payments, checking your balances as well as other banking transactions like account statements and ordering of cheque books.
5) E-commerce: This too saves you both the hassle of travelling to a market as well as dealing in cash. Additionally you also get many lucrative offers online.
6) Digital payment for services and taxes: Needless to say this helps in avoiding time and trouble of standing in long queues. Also you can put reminders or opt for the automatic payment on the due date option, thereby ensuring that you do not miss the deadline for a utility or tax payment.
Thus, you can avoid any inconvenience just by preparing for it in advance. “If you know beforehand about the bank strike, then prepare for it. Have some cash ready with you so that in case of need you can utilize that cash. If you have stayed away from net banking, then it’s time that you gain access to it. In case of holidays or such a situation, net banking comes handy when you have to make payments or transfers,” says Jitendra P S Solanki, CFP & Planner For Special Needs Member Families.
Another problem may arise when there is an EMI to be debited and you have deposited a cheque to provide funds for it. “Due to branch closure, your cheque may not get processed and your EMI may get bounced next day due to insufficient fund. Avoid such situations by pouring in funds much earlier. These are issues you run with when there is a PSU bank involved. Use of digital banking may be a solution to wither such situations. If your PSU bank is not yet tech-friendly, then move to a private sector bank,” adds Solanki.
All the above methods are not just easing your life and safeguarding you from bank strikes, but are increasingly becoming mandatory for staying in tune with the economic and social realities of our time. “Sooner rather than later if you do not use these methods you will face huge hindrances in your commercial and banking needs as well as business opportunities. However, when you use these digital and online methods, always keep your credit and debit cards as well as bank details in a secure and safe place. Also take care of maintaining the secrecy of your PIN and OTP numbers,” says Kapur.