BEFORE COMPUTERS-AFTER DIGITAL What’s common to the words branch, phone, Internet and mobile? The suffix ‘banking’, claims a tech buff.

What’s common to the words branch, phone, Internet and mobile? The suffix ‘banking’, claims a tech buff.

AD: Hi, I can’t believe that you’re sitting with a mobile and a laptop... Is there a tech revolution approaching?

BC: My auditor wanted an old bank statement of mine, so I was trying phone banking.

AD: And?

BC: The automated menu asked me to enter my ATM or debit card number, but I had neither — I had opened this account a long time ago… I went around in circles for a few minutes until they hung up on me.

AD: What about net banking?

BC: I tried that too. Apparently, I needed a user name and password.

AD: You could generate one.

BC: I tried doing that with my credit card, but apparently accountholders had to use their ATM or debit card… After several attempts, I was directed back to phone banking to generate my password. So much for technology.

AD: Back in your days, you would have had to wait for the bank to open, to access old records.

BC: That seemed simpler. Now, I need a credit card or debit card, a mobile phone, a laptop, an internet connection, my personal identification number or electronic banking identity number — or maybe both, I’m not sure... And all this just to access my bank account. The only ID proofs missing are my ration card, passport and driving licence — and of course, my horoscope and the counterfoil of the tickets to last night’s Batman movie.

AD: Stop being sarcastic.

BC: I remember the days when the bank meant your friendly neighbourhood branch. Every transaction was a big event, passbooks were the size of passports and bank employees were your neighbourhood friends.

AD: You forgot to mention irate tellers, long queues, longer lunch hours, metal tokens.

BC: But today you have t-pins, m-pins, i-pins, passwords, user ids and so much more. How does one remember all that?

AD: You can continue to crib, but analysts refer to mobile banking as the most path-breaking banking innovation of the century.

BC: So what you’re implying is that short of spewing money through the mouthpiece, the mobile phone can take care of all your banking needs.

AD: Actually, it almost does that too… Just as credit cards eliminated the need to carry money, mobile banking is edging out credit cards and debit cards from our wallet — with features like Hal-Cash and Airtel money.

BC: So what’s next? Banking through Facebook?

AD: That's already here. Banks like First National Bank in South Africa and ICICI back home have made this possible. Customers have to link their mobile banking app to their Facebook account and can transact from the social networking site.

BC: The bank’s open six hours a day, but your Facebook account’s open 24 hours a day, right?

AD: Absolutely – and since the Citi never sleeps either, Citibank also has launched a Facebook app for reward points in its loyalty programme.

BC: So after phone banking, net banking and mobile banking, we now have social banking?

AD: Right!

BC: Well, as long as they don’t write my loan outstandings on my wall…

AD: Seriously speaking, hasn’t technology made banking more convenient?

BC: On the contrary, it has only added to my worries…

AD: How is that?

BC: So far, my only concern was that I didn’t have enough money in my account. Now, with all the phishing and security breaches in banks, I also have to worry about someone else taking away what little there is.

sureshl.india@gmail.com