Over a decade on since the launch of revolutionary services, People’s Bank is now implementing over 750 new Palmtop machines into service. Chiefly aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises and sole proprietors, the service affords customers the ability to make deposits, apply for loans, and make balance inquiries, all from the comfort of their home or place of work. The service is currently available for all savings and current account holders at People’s Bank, and is available to all customers at no extra cost
Mr. K.B. Rajapakse, Senior Deputy General Manager (Retail Banking) at People’s Bank, recently sat down to discuss the core benefits of this service, the reasons behind its implementation, and why the bank decided to expand it.
Q: What is the main benefit of palmtop banking?
A: Some of our customers are unable to visit banks due to various reasons. Some are located far away from their nearest branch; others simply don’t have the time. Because of that the branch staff go to their place and collect the money, and update our system online from that location. Also before our officer visits a client, the Bank will phone and make sure that the client knows who and when to expect them. We also have a lot of customers in the Pola; we go there and collect the money. As the vendors are in the Pola from morning to evening, they don’t have time, a lot of the time to deposit their daily earnings.
Q: Isn’t the service same as that offered by the some 246 cash deposit machines (CDMs) People’s Bank has island-wide?
A: Not necessarily. While the bank has over 200 cash deposit machines (CDMs) island-wide, several areas remain uncovered. There is also a matter of safety; while transporting cash to a CDM is a risk many customers take on a regular basis, transporting large sums – such as is often the case with small businesses – requires them to bear substantial more risk. Even to deposit to CDMs it still requires money being taken there physically. But when we send our own officers there to collect the money, it is much safer and secure. We have insured our officer, the cash, and the cash-in-transit, while the transfer of cash to the account is instantaneous. The risk is now completely negated with the Palmtop banking facility.
Q: What are some of the other benefits of this service?
A: Real-time transaction verification is another one of the key benefits of palmtop banking. Prior to its introduction, bank officers used to go collect the money, bring it back to the branch, and either deposits it on the same day or the following day. The passbook would then only be updated the following day, after which the officer would have to take the book back to the client to show that the money had been deposited. It was a manual, conventional, and time consuming process. Customers like the new system because they can see the deposit immediately.
The service can also be arranged so that officers come to collect the cash at a pre-determined time. However if the time requested is outside of regular office hours, it will need to be arranged in advance. Take the example of a doctor, who has been busy from 4-10pm with patients. So they collect the money from the patients and it’s with them, but they can only deposit after 10. At this time obviously branches are closed. So what we can offer is for them to have a prior arrangement with us to come and collect the following morning at their place.
Q: Does this service also then encourage people to save more money?
A: Yes, absolutely. The service is crucial in People’s Banks overarching goal of inculcating a savings mindset within its customer base, and subsequently in the country. Ensuring regular visits will help the customers to have a long term investment plan. Because of the convenience offered by the machine, customers are motivated to deposit cash and save more as a result. Otherwise it’s an entire process, where for most people it requires prior planning to make a visit to the bank to make any sort of deposit. But when you come and show them the machine, a lot of the time people are like ‘It is very time saving’.”
Q: How has the expansion of the service impacted on your staff?
A: To aid in this service expansion we have brought into their employ roughly 500 employees in the sales team, with awareness programs conducted amongst the staff to educate them on the benefits and privileges of collecting daily deposits via palmtop machines for both customers and to the bank. The officers, who can be identified easily through their attire and identity card – all daily collectors will sport the newly designed People’s Way T-shirts & caps – are also being incentivized to reach branch targets. Our sales team will serve to create awareness among customers about the key benefits of palmtop banking.