The next time you walk into your bank's branch, you may find something missing: bankers. Rising rentals and staff costs are pushing Indian banks to go for 'lobby banking'—a bundle of sophisticated automated consoles and next-gen software, which enables customers to carry out most banking transactions themselves.
A customer can deposit or withdraw cash (including coins), or cheques, which are automatically 'truncated'— electronically processed for clearance. Cash is instantly credited, while cheques are scanned front and back, signatures electronically verified and the data transmitted to the Reserve Bank of India's electronic cheque clearance system.
"Lobby banking is a concept where almost all banking services could be offered at a single point through interactive machines," said Sunil Udupa, President and CEO of AGS Infotech Pvt Ltd, which launched these machines in India in collaboration with Wincor Nixdorf of Germany. Smaller players like Yes Bank and ING Vysya are already testing them, while the RBI is testing the back-end of the cheque truncation process. "Lobby banking provides clients with a very easy way to do basic transactions. It helps banks reduce traffic for cash and basic inquiries and serve customers beyond banking hours. Electronic banking can produce real-time information for clients at a much lower cost per customer interaction," says Yes Bank's Ravishankar.