Adfer Rashid Shah of New Delhi has sent a comment to EPW. It is likely to be ignored by most but is worthy of a discussion.
He ponders over how banking is just becoming faceless:
Recently I went to a bank to update my passbook. The machine could not update all my entries so I went back to the official concerned. Very reluctantly and after much pleading he updated it on his system. While I was there one elderly lady approached him with the same request. The official reacted rudely and said, “when the bar code is already pasted, why are you here still bothering me?” The woman went away. I was shocked and asked the official if there was anybody that could help or guide her and others like her who do not know how to deposit cheques, cash or update their passbooks through machines and need to be assisted. With a frown, he stared at me and replied that she should request the security guard outside.
We must realise that even literate people in this country do not necessarily know all the banking procedures, not to talk of the elderly and many others and therefore the bank authorities have to take into consideration the much needed human face of banking that is fast vanishing. Banks are there because of the customers, illiterate or literate and the staff must be trained to deal sensitively with those who may not be able to understand the complexities of modern technology.
Why just banking, most services are just becoming the same. At best faces will pop up in some store to sell you something. As the sale is made. one is made to struggle with numerous telephone numbers and call centres amidst endless waiting time to fix small things.
But then this could be even more crucial in banking as people have parked their money at the place. As experts after experts talk about how techological disruption will change banking forever, whatsapp moment of banking etc., we should sit back and ponder over these issues as well. These experts seldom realise that such statements could actually be instilling some kind of fear amidst older generations over this excessive usage of technology in banking. Ironically, we could be actually taking banking further away from some people who are not as tech oriented.
That time could not be far away when technology could be ruling us (it already is) than we ruling it.
There is just too much attention on making things as efficient and fast as possible. This is true in banking as well. We have already reached a stage where we hardly spend much time making most of our banking matters and want to shave off even more seconds from the process. How fast and tech oriented should everything be?