Between 2006 and 2012, I was a student in the US finishing up bachelor’s business. I managed to land a job on campus which helped to pay for some of my bad eating habits (and other things I could afford).
In the first couple of weeks, I received pay cheques until I was officially enrolled on the campus payroll system. When I was officially enrolled, I got paid by direct deposits into my bank account.
Direct Deposit was great. When I got paid, my bank would ping me that I had been credited some money, I would check my online account on my phone and I would confirm the payment. Fast. Easy. Simple. After I started receiving direct deposit payments, I don’t recall ever setting foot into a banking hall. All transactions and other banking stuff was handled online or by telephone or email.
Then I came to Ghana and everything was all wrong.
I was working and I was back to receiving pay cheques. Back to square one.
Of course, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. But until you’ve received a pay cheque, driven through traffic just to get to the banking hall to notice a huge gaggle of people waiting in queues to also deposit their pay cheques, you realise that this is old fashioned, archaic and frankly, very inefficient.
Banks Need To Embrace The Future
I thrive on efficiency. I also try to find the best and most efficient way of doing tasks. That doesn’t necessarily mean taking shortcuts but if a shortcut seems like the best route, there’s no harm in taking it.
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed one day and someone had commented on a post about one of the bank. The bank had launched some kind of e-commerce platform and were outlining information on what it does.
Apparently, if you want to sign up for the platform, you have to drive to the bank branch, pick up an application form and physically fill it out?
Physically fill out an application form for an e-commerce platform? That seems odd.
Frankly, I still our banks are still stuck in the mud when it comes to banking. Some of the processes are cumbersome and actually annoying.
In order for me to deposit physical cash into my bank account, I have to fill out a paper slip. A LONG paper slip. I didn’t go to the bank to write an essay just so I could put cash into my account!
Maybe I’m just annoyed because I lived in a society like the US which is becoming more cashless every year. But I hardly remember filling out paper slips to put physical cash into my account when I was there. What I remember was going to the teller, giving him/her, my ATM card and saying I wanted to put cash in my account.
That transaction would last at most, one minute.
Funny enough, I hardly had to go to the banking hall and interact with the teller. I just used the ATMs. Cash Deposits, Cheque Deposits, Withdrawing Money, Sending Money..etc. I did all that from an ATM. Frankly I was stunned I could easily slip in a cheque and have it appear in my account.
It’s nice to say that same ATM technology is being used by some of the banks. It would be nice if those ATMs are standardized across the country. (Fingers crossed)
In short, our banks need to start embracing more technology. I’m not saying they should automate everything. Some people still like physical interaction and are more comfortable with that. I’m just saying that some processes should be streamlined and automated.
They first thing they should do is eliminate paper slips. Seriously, we’re wasting paper. If I’m making a cash deposit, just allow me to use my ATM card. It’s linked to my account. The banks can just ask for ID if they need to confirm the holder of the card.
Banks can totally cut costs on pens and paper if they did this.
Push Customers Into Direct Deposits
I already mentioned how it was seamless for me to receive pay when it was time for me to get paid. Direct Deposit is the way to go. If banks really want to lessen the load of their workers when its pay day, they need to start pushing businesses to start doing direct deposits.
Already the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GHIPSS) is pushing the whole direct deposit thing on TV and radio. It’s a no brainer. If banks have to provide incentive, they should do that.
Thanks to companies like ExpressPay and SlydePay who seem to be leading the way in terms of banking and payment systems, the national banks themselves seem to slowly crawling along.
ExpressPay recently unveiled a feature in their app whereby a user can directly transfer funds from their account to someone else. They called it Bank Direct.
You would think the banks would make it easier to do that sort of thing without the customer having to go directly to their branch to do that transaction.
Some banks (like mine) do that. Others….not so much.
Where’s Your Online System
Truth be told, I’m on my third bank. The first bank I signed up with was awful. Bad customer experience, bad banking service..etc. The second bank I signed up with wasn’t too bad but I had them lacking in terms of online experience.
The third bank I’m on has me covered. Honestly, I think it’s the best bank I’ve used so far. Haven’t had any trouble with service, their online service is great and their banking app is really good.
Most of the banks love to talk about how they’re into e-banking and all that jazz but not many of them can talk to talk. It’s actually kind of disappointing.
Most of the banks don’t have a great online system for banking and some have worse app experiences.
We’re in a digital world. Most of everything is done online. I think how I manage my money is essential and also needs to make the leap to the online world. But Ghana banks aren’t really helping a lot.
What if I want to transfer money from my account to someone in another part of the country? Don’t tell me I have to go to the bank branch to do that. Why can’t I pick up my phone, log into my banking account and do that process? It can’t be that hard, can it?
I’ve done transactions for myself and others and I can’t tell you how annoying it is to have to drive in this traffic obsessed city to do the simplest of banking activities. Banks really need to start that technology push to their customers. It will ease the burden and will definitely get them more recommendations.
Maybe they’re in the process of making that leap. Or maybe for them, it’s just business as usual. For a tech nerd like me, that’s kind of disappointing.
(Oh, the bank I use in Ghana: Stanbic Bank. Love their online experience and love their mobile app. Others banks should take note and try to be like Stanbic.)