Need for smooth e-banking

WITH THE boom of information technology and communication facilities in Pakistan during the last several years, the banking sector has opened a window of service packages especially the online banking to their customers across the country. According to a recent report of State Bank of Pakistan, the overall value and volume of ATM transactions increased by 10.33 percent and 10.68 percent respectively in the second quarter as compared to the first quarter of the current fiscal year. The share of ATM transactions in overall e-banking transactions in value terms was 6.27 percent during the second quarter. The value and volume of overall e-banking transactions in the country increased by 18.02 per cent and 11.31 per cent during the second quarter of the current fiscal year (Oct-Dec 2012) to reach Rs 7.6 trillion and 79.45 million respectively as compared to the first quarter of the ongoing financial year. About 94 per cent of bank branches across the country are now offering real-time online branches (RTOB) services as 484 more branches were added to the RTOB network during the second quarter of the current fiscal year. With the overall 9,896 bank branches out of 10,523 now offer RTOB services across the country, the value and volume of RTOB transactions has also increased by 18.82 per cent and 14.29 per cent respectively. Now as the total number of ATMs 6232 working in the country, their volume of overall e-banking transactions has a major share of 61.12 per cent with an average value of Rs 9,779 per transaction. But despite all these innovations and progress, the e-banking so far remains unable to effectively attract the customers while the conventional banking still holds the ground chiefly due to the multiple reasons. The low internet penetration rate in the country has emerged as a potent factor behind keeping most of the bank customers away from e-banking. This may be linked to their shaky trust in the effectiveness of such kind of banking. Smooth internet connectivity, its availability across the country and frequent disturbance in communication system are something which have not been fully overcome. E-banking mostly comprises online money transactions between individuals as well as organizations, bills payments and ATM affairs, however, the non-existent system of checks and proper monitoring of all e-banking affairs could be linked to most of the customers still remaining shy of opting for e-banking. However, these problems are not something that cannot be resolved right now. If the relevant authorities come up with an effective mechanism to ensure conduction of surveys on quality of services on regular basis, it could lead to betterment of services in addition to forcing the banking sector to improve their service delivery level.

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