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French Version

Banks 'capitalize' on e-services

Personal electronic services, as they are called, are the new fashion at Jordanian banks. These include phone banking, through an interactive voice response system, Internet banking, mobile banking and, of course, the ATM machines.

Banks lead you to believe that it's all about giving you a better service, which is only part of the reason they are scrambling to provide these new channels of banking information.

The real reason is the savings involved, in employee time and overheads. Every time you use one of these services, such as online banking, you are actually helping the bank save money on serving you.

Think about the time a bank employee consumes catering to your requests at the counter. If you ask for a statement of account, then make an internal transfer between your accounts, and finally request a new cheque book you have taken no less than 10 minutes of the teller's time.

Now you can get all these services done through online banking, without a trip to the bank—which is the saving you make in transportation time and costs—and the banks save time and money in serving you. In fact, online banking also generates income for the bank. Every time you electronically request a bank statement (by mail) or order a cheque book, your account will be charged a fee. So, in a way, banks will be making money from your 'clicks' on service buttons. When online banking was first introduced, some of the banks charged a fee for it; a small amount of JD20 a year or less, while others realized straight away that the service savings online banking introduces are worth giving it away free, or maybe even paying customers to use it!

Today, it's worth conducting a study on the actual efficiencies that these electronic services have created, and see which service have been adopted by customers, As we all know, mobile banking is yet to make an impact, but Internet banking is really picking up.

The widespread use of Internet banking is a function of the number of computers in use, and whether or not they are connected to the Internet. It is safe to say, at this point in time, that over 50 percent of corporate customers have computers connected to the Internet at their offices and are, therefore, candidates for online banking. As for individuals, the percentage of people willing to cancel many trips to the bank, and depend on e-banking for part of their banking service, seems dependant on age, social class and technology literacy. As our society evolves into an information society, individual e-banking will spread.

Currently, the banks still have a lot of work to do to make it even more worth our while to use Internet banking. They need to apply payment systems for customers to pay their phone and electricity bills online, a service that's been promised by all banks but only delivered on a test-basis by few so far. After that, the sky will be the limit. Anything you need from your bank, apart from a 'physical' deposit of cash or cheques, or a withdrawal of cash, can be carried out through online banking. You'll be paying people all over the world, directly from your bank account. The banks, of course, will be making fees on all these transactions.

Ever since the e-business revolution started sometime in the late 90, and even now into its relative slump, the banks have been among the organizations to make the best of the technological developments. They have always found ways to take our money! As they say, you can never beat the banks.

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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