MUMBAI (TIP): In a bid to improve efficiency of banks and to bring down their operational costs, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked banks to make all possible efforts to enable customers to get onboard the mobile banking platform. Henceforth, mobile banking PIN can be generated from ATMs, mobile phones, internet banking and mailers. RBI has also asked banks to promote mobile banking and go all out to acquire mobile numbers of customers.

In its new circular detailing mobile banking norms, RBI has sought to standardize procedures across banks. “There are differences in procedures adopted by banks for registering customers for mobile banking as well as in the channels of delivery and authentication process. Lack of awareness as well as standardization of procedures at banks also adds up to the problems, which has led to a slow pickup of mobile banking service despite the high mobile density in the country.” Banking sources said that the RBI has suggested to banks that since mobile banking is one of the cheapest alternate channels, banks could look at incentivizing customers who use this channel.

New bank account-opening forms will mandatorily include a section that will allow people to opt in for mobile banking. RBI has asked banks to make serious efforts to increase awareness and has said that efforts should be made at every interaction – ATMs, branches and passbook printing counters to obtain customers mobile number. The central bank’s move on mobile banking comes at a time when banks are expected to add 15 crore new customers, most of whom will not have any minimum balance requirement.

Bankers say that unless there is a heavy use of technology, banks will see their operational costs soar if they use traditional infrastructure to service all customers. “If all customers come on board the mobile banking platform, a significant load will be taken off bank branches if customers use mobile banking for balance enquiry and remittances,” said a bank official. Speaking at FICCI’s annual banking summit FIBAC in September, RBI deputy governor H R Khan had said that while there are over 900 million mobile users in the country, there are only 40 million mobile customers.

“This underscores the need for active collaboration between banks and telcos irrespective of the platform, whether it is SMS, smartphone applications or USSD,” said Khan. The deputy governor also said that banks need to see mobile banking channel as a cost-saving avenue as it would eventually bring down cash-handling charges rather than as a revenue-generation vertical.

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