Automated teller machines, Internet banking and phone banking may have made banking easier, but the spate of holidays over the next one week has customers of state-run banks in a bind.
It is going to be a long weekend for bankers. Friday, banks are closed in Mumbai, Hyderabad and some other regions on account of Ramnavami.
Then Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and other cities will remain closed on Monday, April 14, for Ambedkar Jayanti and Tamil New Year's day. The very next day, Tuesday, April 15, is a holiday for Mumbai, New Delhi, Nagpur, and other markets in the north on account of Mahavir Jayanti.
Since no clearing of cheques takes place on Saturday, it will be a five-day holiday for all practical purposes.
Keeping in mind the spate of holidays, the Reserve Bank of India on Thursday conducted a six-day repo deal with banks and mopped up Rs 28,645 crore (Rs 286.45 billion).
After two days, again banks will remain closed on April 18 in most of the centres for Good Friday.
Bankers say that despite holidays customers can now carry on their normal banking transactions, thanks to the technology platform. Even those who do not own a credit card, can shop through debit cards. However, this is essentially a metro phenomenon, driven by new private and foreign banks.
Private sector banks such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank and UTI Bank are taking care to top up cash in their ATMs to the maximum possible limit. The central monitoring team of these banks are keeping a close watch on the level of cash in these ATMs to ensure that they do not run out of cash.
IDBI Bank has also tied up with its vendors for offering cash pick up and cash delivery to bulk customers. The vendors will safe keep the cash in its vault and will be deposited in the bank's branches in the next working day.
However some of the customers can also use the services of branches.
The 24-hour 364-day branches of some of the banks (Stanchart and a few others) will continue to function even during the holidays. However, the customers of traditional state-run banks will face problems. Unlike new private and foreign banks, these banks primarily rely on branches as the traditional delivery channel. Except for the State Bank of India, other banks' ATM networks are smaller.
There are normally two types of transactions in banks -- in some cases a third party is involved such as transfer of money where RBI clearing is involved and others are internal transactions of the banks.
"Till five years back, customers could not do any transactions. Today, the customer can avail of the internal transactions such as opening fixed deposit through net banking, transfers of money to other accounts through ATMs," according to Amish Tripathi, head marketing, IDBI Bank.