State-run banks accounted for nearly two-third of the customer complaints received during the last financial year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday said in its report on trend and progress of banking in the country.
“Public sector banks accounted for bulk of the complaints (70 per cent) received during 2011-12. Within public sector banks, the State Bank group alone accounted for almost 38 per cent of total complaints received,” RBI said.
The number of complaints increased 2.3 per cent year-on-year to 72,889, with 40 per cent coming from major metropolitan cities, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Most complaints were related to credit and debit cards followed by violation of fair practice codes, deposit accounts, failure of commitments made by banks and pensions.
“Going forward, there is a need to improve customer services in public sector banks across all spheres of banking... With the advent of technology, there is a need to further strengthen customer service in areas of net and mobile banking to enhance customer confidence in these technologies,” the banking regulator said.
RBI suggested banks need to improve their customer data base to prevent incidents of fraud and money laundering. The central bank has already taken a new initiative, unique customer identification code, to ensure this.
RBI noted its decision to allow banks to use business correspondents in remote centres, relax branch authorisation policy and use mobile technology has led to improvement in financial inclusion.
Majority of the new bank branches were opened in rural and semi-urban areas while off-site ATMs provided a substitute for brick-and-mortar branches in metropolitan areas.
“The process of providing banking outlets in all villages with population more than 2,000 is on the verge of completion... The progress, so far, by banks in achieving financial inclusion plan during the last two years has been impressive. A brief analysis of the progress shows that penetration of banking has increased multi-fold in rural areas.” RBI said.
At the end of March 2012, villages covered through business correspondents constituted more than 80 per cent of the total villages covered under the financial inclusion plan. The volume of transactions through ICT (information and communications technology)-based accounts have also increased steadily.
“In the ensuing year, focus would be on the number and value of transactions in the no-frills accounts and credit disbursed through ICT-based business correspondent outlets,” RBI said.