Widening Digital Footprint, Deepening Customer Engagement

Reported by: |Updated: September 25, 2020

Gujarat’s apex cooperative bank is extensively creating awareness among customers of DCCBs and UCBs about digital alternatives:

Ajay Patel

The Gujarat State Cooperative Bank has an IT vision to take all cooperative banks in the state under one ‘Technology Umbrella’ so as to support smaller banks in providing the latest services to their customers. According to Ajay Patel, Chairman of the bank, the bank strives to leverage technology to provide services to the masses by adopting digital ecosystem combining elements of customer centricity, convenience, affordability, social, mobile and innovation. The bank is providing its customers EMV Platinum RuPay card services and has launched PoS services at very competitive rates and full-fledged mobile banking.

Says Patel: “Latest PoS terminals (broadband / GPS / mobile) are now a part of our digital portfolio. Apart from retail banking customers, close to 170 banks (DCCBs and UCBs) are utilizing our internet banking service for their daily settlement and reconciliation process. We have also launched a mobile banking app with a new customer friendly interface and Bharat Bill Payment Services and Bharat QR services have now been integrated with our mobile banking platform. We are also live on/ UPI services and among the few cooperative banks to do so.”

CHALLENGE FOR COOP BANKS

In the aftermath of the corona pandemic, every industry, including banking, is coming to terms with and adopting to the new normal and tackling the challenges thrown by the unprecedented situation. Gujarat State Cooperative Bank too is not an exclusion. Patel says some of the major challenges faced by the bank were cash handling by customers, which involves risk of spreading infections. “How to decrease cash handling by customers on a daily basis has been a challenge. Many customers are not aware / not comfortable with technology and digital mode. The question has been how to encourage and motivate them to switch over to digital methods. Customers of cooperative banks come mostly from rural background and are semi-literate. Educating and encouraging them to use digital banking is a big challenge as also how to minimize loss of business even while decreasing footfalls at the branches.”

AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS

For corporate customers, the bank gives several free services including RTGS/NEFT. For retail customers, it has been enhancing the awareness of digital banking through personalized communication from branch managers as well as discouraging branch visits and facilitating transactions through digital means. Customers are also being informed about the extended timings of services like NEFT. The bank is also reinforcing the need for customers to switch to digital transactions through campaigns using various communication channels.

Says Patel: “Educating customers on fringe benefits associated with making digital payments for utility bills, recharges, transfer of funds and various eCom purchases / payments etc, like discounts, cashbacks and offers, is done extensively. We have been giving offers on all marketing / promotional channels, including social media, to encourage users to opt for digital payments. Technology at the back end has been strengthened to take care of increased volumes of digital transactions. Our staff is working overtime to increase digital banking subscriptions by customers.”

MOBILE BANKING UP

He says the bank’s focus this year is to make digital banking more acceptable to the customers, mostly by changing their mindset and getting over their hesitation to use technology. Thebank has already implemented a new user interface for internet banking, which is safer, more secure and user friendly.

The bank has recorded increase in the number of transactions at its ATMs – from 63,009 a year ago to 70,503 as on March 2020. The total number of customers registered for mobile banking too had increased to 6917 as on March 2020 from 4656 a year ago. The total number of RTGS/NEFT/IMPS/UPI transactions too had increased to 19,546 from 4965 a year ago. The total value of all these transactions had increased to Rs251.3 million from Rs90.1 mn during the period. The contribution of transactions in terms of value is highest by NEFT (Rs83.47 million), followed by IMPS (Rs78.01 million), UPI (Rs51.21 million) and RTGS (Rs50.53 million).

“From these figures, you can make out that there is a big jump in digital transactions since February 2020, which implies that our efforts are giving the right results,” says Patel.

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