Saturday, 11 July 2015

Pet govt schemes keep PSU banks on the hop

Despite online banking, branches still see a lot of customers coming in; those who come for regular work often have to wait for long as bank employees are under pressure to sell government schemes

With banking having moved online to a large extent, one would assume footfalls in banks would have reduced. However, for public sector banks, this hasn't been the case.

With banks having to dabble in a lot of non-core banking activities, the number of customers streaming into abranch has actually seen a steady increase. In fact, ever since the new government started pushing its pet social security schemes, bankers say footfalls have increased manifold.

However, customers coming in for regular banking work often have to wait, sometimes for hours, as bank employees are busy trying to sell the government's latest schemes.

For instance, 26-year-old Geeta Parsi visited State Bank of India's Pimpri branch last week for the first time. She had already handed in her documents some weeks ago and, therefore, expected to be done in a few minutes. However, she was ushered into the bank by the security guard, who gave her a token, and ended up waiting for two-and-a-half hours. When her turn finally came, she was told her account number was 'wrong'.

Said Neville Bhaskaran (42), a customer of Indian Bank, "A visit to a bank is incredibly time-consuming. Even simple transactions take over 20 minutes." The banks have to sell two insurance schemes — Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana —as well as the Atal Pension Yojana for the first few days of the month, besides their core banking functions.

Private sector banks are better off as they are not required to be as aggressive in selling government schemes.

Rajesh Kamble, a 48-year-old customer of three different state-run banks, said, "The average wait in public sector banks is half-an-hour. People come to banks even for regular transactions because they sometimes cannot find a working ATM with notes of the right denomination."

Another customer, requesting anonymity, agreed that employees in public sector banks are overworked. "My bank asked for my help in securing 200 customers for various government schemes," he said. When asked why the Jan Dhan Yojana was getting more attention now, unlike under the erstwhile UPA-II government, bankers answered in one word — pressure.

A general manager of a leading public sector bank closely monitoring the various schemes of the government said, "This government has driven it right from the top." Some bankers complain they have been saddled with jobs which are essentially outside the purview of banking.

"There are so many things to do and the government keeps pushing new schemes. How will I attend to my regular customers?" asked a branch manager of the State Bank of India.

█ The average wait in public sector banks is halfan- hour. People come to banks even for regular transactions because they sometimes cannot find a working ATM with notes of the right denomination.

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