But then why do we see such huge crowds in some banks? That's because though the number of people doing netbanking is on the rise, their percentage is small. The McKinsey report puts the figure at 7% of the total number of bank customers. But this 7% itself is a jump — from a mere 1% five years back. The survey also shows that India leads the growth in Asia in mobile and internet usage for banking.
What financial transactions can be done online? Quite lot, in fact. You can check your balance online, which means you can bid goodbye to your passbook. You can open fixed deposits and recurring deposits, which means you are saved from a whole lot of paperwork at the bank. If you need to pay someone, you needn't write out a cheque, and post it; you can transfer cash online to any branch; you just need to get your 'Third Party Transfer' option enabled. All banks have multiple layers of security to make sure there is no misuse. You can also make your credit card payments online.
The scope of netbanking has now broadened to including even services that aren't strictly banking. Many banks, especially in the private sector, are now getting into wealth management, for example. One of the reasons is that many customers like to handle their investments themselves rather than rely on third party agents. And this is possible, thanks to the power of internet technology, which allows users to make informed decisions. Artha Money and Intuit are very popular websites that help users to view all their accounts in one place, set budgets, configure alerts and track their investments. ICICI Direct links your banking, trading and demat accounts. HDFC Securities is another popular one.
ING Vysya Bank has gone one step ahead, and got the wealth management functions also within the netbanking website. Thus, with a single login into the netbanking account, you get access to a whole range of services that goes beyond mere banking. Sonalee Panda, business head, wealth management & marketing, ING Vysya Bank, says, "75% of our clients rate control and access to their investments as the most important need. This is in line with the growing 'Do-It-Yourself' trend we are witnessing in travel and shopping."
You can either check your bank balance or go to the wealth management section and check out the investment products. The customers can view not only their mutual funds but also investments across life insurance, demat account, portfolio management schemes and other assets.
Thanks to technology, managing finances all by ourselves sitting in the comforts of our homes is only getting easier by the day.
(This article appeared in The Times of India, Bangalore, today)