RBI to visit banks incognito to check customer dealings

The Reserve Bank today said it will soon undertake “incognito visits” to bank branches to check culture towards customer complaints in banks.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday tweaked the guidelines on ownership or shareholding in private sector banks. (Reuters)

The Reserve Bank today said it will soon undertake “incognito visits” to bank branches to check culture towards customer complaints in banks.

It will also undertake a review of how banks have implemented Charter of Customer Rights, the central bank said in a statement.

“Customers must have the right to access banking services and to the grievance redressal machinery – to banks’ internal mechanism for grievance redressal as well as the Banking Ombudsman Scheme of the Reserve Bank – so that they are not ‘excluded’ from the banking fold,” the release quoting Governor Raghuram Rajan said.

Rajan had inaugurated the Annual Conference of Banking Ombudsmen 2016 held in Thiruvananthapuram on February 15-16, 2016.

He said websites, mobile phones, missed calls, physical places, and collection points could be some ways to aggregate customer complaints for redressal.

High level of automation would not only allow customers to access the grievance redressal machinery at anytime from anywhere but also reduce the cost of grievance redressal.

The RBI had put out a Charter of Customer Rights in public domain and asked banks to adapt and implement it after their Board’s approval.

Rajan also said that the RBI was exploring ways to resolve customer complaints across regulators through forums, such as, Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).

The Governor impressed upon banks that the grievance redressal mechanism “must be integrated” in the business operations of banks. Grievances are also an important input into regulatory and supervisory processes, he added.

Explaining the importance of customer awareness, customer protection and customer literacy, Rajan stated that a large segment of the population was not comfortable entering a bank even today.

Moreover, only a fragment of the customer complaints came from rural areas, he said, adding this clearly showed the urban bias and lack of awareness among the new entrants about customer grievance redressal processes.

“We want the new entrant to be comfortable in asking not only for banking services but also about redressal of grievances,” he exhorted bankers.

The conference was attended by managing directors and senior executives of major commercial banks, Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), Banking Codes and Standards Board of India, Banking Ombudsmen and heads of regulatory and supervisory departments of the Reserve Bank.

RBI Deputy Governor S S Mundra the apex bank was reviewing its Banking Ombudsman Scheme to enlarge the areas covered by it and to reduce the urban bias of customer redressal processes.

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