With the WHO declaring a pandemic, institutions across the country have started taking measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus and limit physical interactions. It is high time banks start doing the same to promote public health and safety. For starters, they must consider waiving bank charges for online transfers and RTGS transaction charges for customers.
With a potential outbreak looming around the corner, they must take measures in advance so that they can meet future challenges, and people can remain safe from the adverse economic impacts of the pandemic. The financial sector plays a key role in providing services to both the general public and businesses, and banks must hold discussions with their stakeholders and take measures to ensure service continuity without risking exposure to the virus.
The measures should aim to reduce the need to visit ATMs or bank branches and promote digital services like internet and phone banking. Apart from waiving charges for online transfers, the fee earned on online bill payments, including mobile top-ups, utility payments, and duties and taxes should be shared equally by the banks and the PSOs.
The financial industry must also be instructed to facilitate loan repayments and education fees through internet and phone banking. All the banks, PSOs, and payment system providers should make urgent arrangements to enable digital collection of invoices like education fees and offer loan repayment facilities through digital channels.
This will encourage customers to transfer money through internet or phone banking without incurring extra costs. Banks must educate technologically impaired customers to use online banking while taking precautions to ensure the security and safety of customer funds.
Banks must also take steps to ensure that helplines/call centers are available round the clock for customer support. If possible, financial institutions must run awareness campaigns through different channels to encourage customers to use internet or phone banking, limit the use of physical currency and restrict visits to the bank. To avoid any frauds that might result from a surge in digital transactions, the industry must exercise greater vigilance over digital channels and increase monitoring to avoid cyber threats.
The coronavirus outbreak has challenge daily life globally and countries are scrambling to find solutions. So far, the main approach has been to take defensive measures. The aforementioned suggestions, if implemented, will help customers meet their routine financial needs. It is the responsibility of the banks to work with stakeholders and take all possible measures to improve public safety.