E-Banking a must in these days of technology revolution

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ONE afternoon in a cafe in Senayan, South Jakarta, 33-year-old Feby Aprilia was enjoying a cappuccino while her fingers deftly keyed in words on her mobile phone. She was sending a text message while waiting for a friend. Today, just about everyone is familiar with text messages, or SMS, which is one of the most popular forms of communication.

Suddenly, Feby, who works in the food industry, realized she had to do some banking, such as pay her credit card bill and transfer money to her sister in Yogyakarta. Luckily, she had an account with Bank BRI so the transactions via SMS were easy. “It’s fantastic, I don’t have to go a bank or ATM. With just a flick of my fingers I can make transactions any time, any place,” said the mother of two.

SMS banking is the latest service provided by Bank BRI. It is easy for the bank’s customers to use the facility as they only have to register at one of its ATMs, which are everywhere nationwide. One does not have to change their phone SIM card because transactions can be done through regular SMS using the access code number 3300. “There are no changes, it is as simple as sending a normal SMS,” said Imam Subowo, senior manager of Bank BRI.

This facility is also offered by other major banks here, such as BCA, Mandiri, Danamon, Permata. SMS banking can also be used for money transfers, changing a PIN number, checking account balances, recharging a cell phone account and all sorts of payments. Some banks call it mobile banking (m-banking). This convenient facility is obviously made possible by the technology revolution in telecommunications. Imagine when a retailer like Freddy goes on holiday in Bali and can directly communicate with his supplier in Taiwan and the manager of his bank in Jakarta and make transactions.

Such progress has taken banks to a new phase of providing the best facilities and services. Their Information Technology infrastructure has totally changed from the previously conventional type as customers can conduct most transactions without having to visit a bank. Customer demand for convenience and security have seen banks rush to provide various e-banking services. The ATM is one of them. ATMs were originally meant to reduce queues inside banks, but today long lines of customers can be seen at ATMs, which is another inconvenience.

Now telecommunication technology has provided another solution so that a bank is in a customer’s hand, in the form of a cell phone. So, m-banking is another service that customers look forward to. No standing in line in front of the teller or at the ATM. Most transactions can be conducted anywhere, any time.

This way banks have met the demand for convenient service as today’s customers’ lifestyle has also changed and they are becoming more mobile. Therefore, a practical and simple solution that is virtual is the answer. BCA has been the most successful in this matter, while Bank Panin was the pioneer in 2000. With cell phones becoming more sophisticated, m-banking has also developed further. Some years ago it was predicted that most banking transactions would be electronic. This has proven to be correct worldwide. Currently, more than 50 percent of transactions are made through the following: ATMs, electronic data capture (EDC), m-banking, Internet banking and call centers.

To meet further demands, banks have to diversify their products and attempt to offer all-in-one services through the aforementioned electronic modes. Lately, with numerous Wi-Fi spots in major cities, the Internet is also becoming more popular for bank transactions. Major banks in the country realize this need so they have rushed to make electronic services available, Customers appear to be satisfied with the 24 hour possibility of most banking transactions via m-banking and the Internet. Users say that they prefer doing their banking via cell phone and notebook without having to leave their homes or workplaces. It is also cheaper because getting to an ATM necessitates traveling there, and paying a parking fee. (R. Dijan Subromo)

The Jakarta Post, August 21, 2008

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