For example, courtesy of information technology, gone are the days when a third party (if they are not depositing) had to physically present a cheque for encashment at a branch where the drawerâ€™s account is held. Today, most banks banks allow third parties to cash cheques from any service station.
Then there is Internet banking, mobile phone banking and automatic teller machines (ATMs) spread across many corners of our beautiful country. Some banks have gone an extra mile to provide Visa debit cards (and even Visa credit cards) which enable customers to pay using Visa point-of-sale devices, thereby saving a customer from double or triple queuing.
My understanding is that most of these initiatives are designed to reduce congestion in banking halls and, at the same time, give customers the convenience of carrying out banking transactions at the time of their choice. This is especially true with Internet banking where one just needs Internet connection to transfer funds and effect payments for various services from anywhere.
But, as they say, old habits die hard. Despite the abundant technology that has created a platform for value-added services, some commercial banks are still yet to adjust. This in turn, is leading to avoidable congestion in their banking halls.
There are 11 commercial banks operating in the country. These are (in alphabetical order) Ecobank (Malawi) Limited, FDH Bank, FMB, Indebank Limited, International Commercial Bank (ICB), Malawi Savings Bank (MSB), National Bank of Malawi (NBM), NBS Bank, Nedbank (Malawi) Limited, Opportunity Bank and Standard Bank.
From the above list, I am yet to set my foot in just two out of the 11 commercial banks.
However, I have mixed feelings regarding my experience in the nine banks I have been to, especially when carrying out deposit transactions. Todate, I have been impressed with three banks where many a customer saves time in terms of filling deposit slips as they are pre-packed with an instant duplicate copy. This is unlike in many of the banks I regularly transact with where, for example, one has to physically fill-in two forms or three in some cases to make a deposit. The situation is worsened by the banksâ€™ failure to provide carbon papers to save customersâ€™ time!
If the two or three banks, despite having modest footprints across the country, are able to have forms that save time, why canâ€™t the others invest in the same stationary to live up to the huge stature they claim to be?
Most banking halls are congested because people queue to fill-in multiple forms for simple transactions. From the fill-in queues, they queue to be served over the counter. It is like one is in a maze!