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Thursday, December 20, 2012

ATMs, e-payment options take sting out of bank strikes

“Is there a bank strike today? I am not aware and not bothered.”

This is how 24-year-old Vivek Sarma, who works for TCS, responded, when asked on the impact of Thursday’s bank strike, at an ATM located in Lakdikappool in the heart of the city here.

In fact, he is not alone and many belonging to Gen-Y responded in a similar vein.

Compared to earlier days when bank strikes had brought the normal financial world of the public to a halt, bank-strikes these days seem to be a non-issue for many, thanks to technology.

The increasing presence of ATMs, usage of Internet banking and e-payment gateways are obviously working in favour of bank customers these days.

“I think technology made bank-strikes irrelevant for many because of increasing use of alternative channels,’’ B.A. Prabhakar, Chairman and Managing Director, Andhra Bank, told Business Line.

The data from the country’s largest bank support this. The percentage of total transactions on alternative channels had gone up to 35.14 per cent in State Bank of India as on September 30, 2012, compared to 31 per cent in the year-ago period.

“From booking movie tickets to paying examination/recruitment test fees is happening mostly online, bank-strikes tend to remain largely as an internal matter though some transactions like clearing may get impacted sometimes,’’ said a senior SBI official.

In rural areas, the impact could be higher, he added.

According to M. Bhagavantha Rao, Managing Director, State Bank of Hyderabad, electronic mode is being used mostly for clearing/transfer of funds.

About 7 lakh bank employees belonging to four unions are striking work today in protest against Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill.


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