Banks’ Digital Presence is Expanding

by Edward O'Brien 0

Public sector banks are typically viewed to be slow adopters of technology. Union Bank of India, then, isn’t being typical, with a heavy focus on the digital mode.

Arun Tiwari, chairman & managing director, says the transformation has begun and with him. The chief has done away with the usual piles of files on his desk, having replaced it with a tablet. Now, he says, with a single click he can keep a tab on what is happening at a branch thousands of kilometres away, in Vellore.

This digital culture is spreading. Tiwari said they’d be launching 100 digital branches this year, all unmanned. The bank will also be launching NFC (Near Field Communication)-enabled contactless debit cards. Customers need to only tap these cards at Point of Sales (PoS) terminals; swiping isn’t needed. ICICI, Axis and State Bank of India are others which have already launched NFC-enabled cards.

Union Bank will also be moving towards allowing customers to view their statements online, fund transfer based on e-mail ID and mobile number, and online opening of savings bank accounts. It is looking at tying up with mobile wallet company Paytm, to allow its users to top up from any of its ATMs. Currently, these top-up facilities are only available on net banking and the debit/credit card gateway.

The age of digital banking is certainly upon us. Advances in online and mobile banking over the past half-decade have spawned new innovation, followed by a convergence of these banking channels toward a unified digital banking presence. And this movement is only accelerating as more banks, payments providers, and software firms bring new products and solutions to market.

Overview by Ed O’Brien, Director, Banking Channels Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group

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