METRO PLUS

Banking made a pleasure

User-friendly operating system.

User-friendly operating system.  

For a sixty plus pensioner or for that matter an average middle class employee, a visit to the bank every fortnight is inevitable. And the moment one decides on the visit, he or she has to plan the day's schedule well in advance, keeping at least two hours reserved for the bank work, especially if the bank were a nationalised bank. Wonder why two hours when the financial market is flooded with scores of nationalised and private banks? Well, the difference lies in the operating system adopted by most of the banks.

The considerable edge that the nationalised banks still enjoy over its private counterparts is in the region of security. Still quite a number of people from the old and orthodox generation believe that nationalised banks are the safest place to keep their hard earned money. They still like to go to the bank give the cheque for clearance and wait patiently cursing under their breath rather then swipe the ATM card in any private bank or for that matter in any of the ATM counters of a nationalised bank.

This old method of transaction is the route cause for all the delay. In the usual procedure one has to go to the bank early to make good of the first-come-first-served principle, present the cheque across the counter, collect the token and wait for the call for receiving payment. But actually from then on they are at the mercy of the attenders. They would take their own cool time to take the ledger to the officer concerned, who in turn would take a few more minutes to check the ledger, verify the signature and pass the payment. By chance there is any minor discrepancy then the customer had it. He or she could as well order lunch while waiting for things to be rectified. Then again the attender has to find time to bring the cheque for payment at the counter. And finally the cashier has to be free to pass the notes to the customer. In total in the process at least one hour would be lost.

To eradicate such delays and inconvenience, nationalised Andhra Bank has launched the Single Window system. All one has to do is to present the withdrawal slip or the cheque at the counter that is generally manned by a trained officer and take the cash immediately across the counter. The same is the case with demand drafts and pay orders.

"In this system the entire operation of collecting the cheque from the customer, verifying the balance and the signature are taken care of by the officer at the counter and he or she is authorised to pass and clear the payment instantly. The instrument need not go from one desk to another for approvals. Each counter is equipped with a PC and once the required account number is fed all the relevant details pertaining to the account flashes on the screen, including the specimen signature. Rather, one can say, the bio-data of sorts of the account holder can be glanced. The programme is constructed to give finer details like value of instruments that have been sent for clearance and last withdrawal date.

The single window system has been inducted in 41 branches so far out of a total of 78 branches in Vizag zone. The main idea of introducing this system is to retain the existing customers in this competitive market. Once a customer is satisfied, he or she shall bring us more potential customers. The expectation of the customers is going up with every passing day and we have match such expectations," says the Deputy General Manager of the bank, T. Upendra Reddy.

Quick clearance at the single window counter. - Photos: C.V. Subrahmanyam

Quick clearance at the single window counter. - Photos: C.V. Subrahmanyam  

A brief interaction with the customers reveals its success rate: " Earlier we were scared to go to the bank, but now banking has become a pleasure," says Margaret of Belmont School. Similarly Gopichand also has something to say in praise, " The new system is very comfortable and flexible. A lot of time can be saved. This system could have been introduced years ago."

"The success rate is not only due to the quick delivery mode of the system but also because of the user-friendly nature of the operating system. Any officer or clerk with a few days of basic training can handle the entire process with confidence. And the most important thing is that it has given the officer or clerk concerned certain freedom or leverage to decide and work within a broader framework," says an officer with the Akkayyapalem branch, B.K Das.

The system has certainly thinned the wall between an officer and a clerk. "Any payment up to Rs.8,000 can be decided and paid by the clerk at the single window counter. Only when it exceeds that amount the customer has to go another single window counter that is manned by an officer," says the bank's Assistant General Manager, Mathew Joseph.

Single window system at present is connected through LAN within the respective branch premises but the bank proposes to bring the system under the WAN umbrella through its integrated information technology drive.

Andhra Bank is the first among the nationlised banks to start this single window system and is also one among the few banks that call themselves fully computerised in the true sense of the term.

"It is definitely the competitive market ideology that has made us think and implement innovative ideas like the single window system, computerised lobby banking and mobile banking, but our main goal is to give the best to the customer and be called as the trailblazer among the nationalised banks at least," says Mr. Mathew.

SUMIT BHATTACHARJEE

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