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Changing Role of Banks in India Since Economic Reforms of 1991

square Changing Role of Banks in India

The role of banks in India has changed a lot since economic reforms of 1991. These changes came due to LPG, i.e. liberalization, privatization and globalization policy being followed by GOI. Since then most traditional and outdated concepts, practices, procedures and methods of banking have changed significantly. Today, banks in India have become more customer-focused and service-oriented than they were before 1991. They now also give a lot of importance to their rural customers. They are even willing ready to help them and serve regularly the banking needs of country-side India.

The changing role of banks in India can be glanced in points depicted below.

changing role of banks in india

The following points briefly highlight the changing role of banks in India.

  1. Better customer service,
  2. Mobile banking facility,
  3. Bank on wheels scheme,
  4. Portfolio management,
  5. Issue of electro-magnetic cards,
  6. Universal banking,
  7. Automated teller machine (ATM),
  8. Internet banking,
  9. Encouragement to bank amalgamation,
  10. Encouragement to personal loans,
  11. Marketing of mutual funds,
  12. Social banking, etc.

The above-mentioned points indicate the role of banks in India is changing. Now let's discuss how banking in India is getting much better day after day.

1. Better Customer Service

Before 1991, the overall service of banks in India was very poor. There were very long queues (lines) to receive payment for cheques and to deposit money. In those days, some bank staffs were very rude to their customers. However, all this changed remarkably after Indian economic reforms of 1991.

Banks in India have now become very customer and service focus. Their service has become quick, efficient and customer-friendly. This positive change is mostly due to rising competition from new private banks and initiation of Ombudsman Scheme by RBI.

2. Mobile Banking

Under mobile banking service, customers can easily carry out major banking transactions by simply using their cell phones or mobiles.

Here, first a customer needs to activate this service by contacting his bank. Generally, bank officer asks the customer to fill a simple form to register (authorize) his mobile number. After registration, this service is activated, and the customer is provided with a username and password. Using secret credentials and registered phone, customer can now comfortably and securely, find his bank balance, transfer money from his account to another, ask for a cheque book, stop payment of a cheque, etc.

Today, almost all banks in India provide a mobile-banking service.

3. Bank on Wheels

The 'Bank on Wheels' scheme was introduced in the North-East Region of India. Under this scheme, banking services are made accessible to people staying in the far-flung (remote) areas of India. This scheme is a generous attempt to serve banking needs of rural India.

4. Portfolio Management

In portfolio management, banks do all the investments work of their clients.

Banks invest their clients' money in shares, debentures, fixed deposits, etc. They first enter a contract with their clients and charge them a fee for this service. Then they have the full power to invest or disinvest their clients' money. However, they have to give safety and profit to their clients.

5. Issue of Electro-Magnetic Cards

Banks in India have already started issuing Electro-Magnetic Cards to their customers. These cards help to carry out cash-less transactions, make an online purchase, avail ATM facility, book a railway ticket, etc.

Banks issue many types of electro-magnetic cards, which are as follows:

  1. Credit cards help customers to spend money (loaned up to a certain limit as previously settled by the bank) which they don't have in hand. They get a monthly statement of their purchases and withdrawals. Along with the transacted amount, this statement also includes the interest and service fee. The entire amount (as reflected in the statement of credit card) must be paid back to the bank either fully or in installments, but before due date.
  2. Debit cards help customers to spend that money which they have saved (credited) in their individual bank accounts. They need not carry cash but instead can use a debit card to make a purchase (for shopping) and/or withdraw money (get cash) from an ATM. No interest is charged on the usage of debit cards.
  3. Charge cards are used to spend money up to a certain limit for a month. At the end of the month, customer gets a statement. If he has a sufficient balance, then he only had to pay a small fee. However, if he doesn't have a necessary balance, he is given a grace period (which is generally of 25 to 50 days) to repay the money.
  4. Smart cards are currently being used as an alternative to avail public transport services. In India, this covers Railways, State Transport and City (Local) Buses. Smart card has an integrated circuit (IC) embedded in its plastic body. It is made as per norms specified by ISO.
  5. Kisan credit cards are used for the benefit of the rural population of India. The Indian farmers (kisans) can use this card to buy agricultural inputs and goods for self-consumption. These cards are issued by both Commercial and Co-operative banks.

6. Universal Banking

In India, the concept of universal banking has gained recognition after year 2000. The customers can get all banking and non-banking services under one roof. Universal bank is like a super store. It offers a wide range of services, including banking and other financial services like insurance, merchant banking, etc.

7. Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

There are many advantages of ATM. As a result, many banks have opened up ATM centres to offer convenience to their customers. Now banks are operating ATM centres not only in their branches but also at public places like airports, railway stations, hotels, etc. Some banks have joined together and agreed upon to set up common ATM centres all over India.

8. Internet Banking

Internet banking is also called as an E-banking or net banking. Here, the customer can do banking transactions through the medium of the internet or world wide web (WWW). The customer need not visit the bank's branch. Through this facility, the customer can easily inquiry about bank balance, transfer funds, request for a cheque book, etc. Most large banks offer this service to their tech-savvy customers.

9. Encouragement to Bank Amalgamation

Failure of banks is well-protected with the facility of amalgamation. So depositors need not worry about their deposits. When weaker banks are absorbed by stronger banks, it is called amalgamation of banks.

10. Encouragement to Personal Loans

Today, the purchasing power of Indian consumers has increased dramatically because banks give them easy personal loans. Generally, interest charged by the banks on such loans is very high. Interest is calculated on reducing balance. Large banks offer loans up to a huge amount like one crore. Some banks even organise Loan Mela (Fair) where a loan is sanctioned on the spot to deserving candidates after they submit proper documents.

11. Marketing of Mutual Funds

A mutual fund collects money from many investors and invests the money in shares, bonds, short-term money market instruments, gold assets; etc. Mutual funds earn income by interest and dividend or both from its investments. It pays a dividend to subscribers. The rate of dividend fluctuates with the income on mutual fund investments. Now banks have started selling these funds in their own names. These funds are not insured like other bank deposits. There are different types of funds such as open-ended funds, closed-ended funds, growth funds, balanced funds, income funds, etc.

12. Social Banking

The government uses the banking system to alleviate poverty and unemployment. Many social development programmes are initiated by the banks from time to time. The success of these programmes depends on financial support provided by the banks. Banks supply a lot of finance to farmers, artisans, scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) families, unemployed youth and people living below the poverty line (BPL).

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