RBI tells banks to get all customers on mobile banking platform

Seeking to improve the efficiency of public sector banks and bring down their operational costs, the Reserve Bank of India has asked banks to make all possible efforts to get customers on board the mobile banking platform.

From now, mobile banking PIN can be generated from ATMs, mobile phones, internet banking and mailers, RBI decreed. It has also asked banks to promote mobile banking and go all out to acquire the mobile numbers of customers.

In its new circular detailing mobile banking norms, RBI has sought to standardise procedures across banks.

"There are differences in procedures adopted by banks for registering customers for mobile banking as well as in the channels of delivery and authentication process. Lack of awareness as well as standardisation of procedures at banks also adds up to the problems, which has led to a slow pickup of mobile banking service despite the high mobile density in the country."

The RBI has also reportedly suggested to banks that since mobile banking is one of the cheapest alternate channels, banks could look at incentivising customers who use this channel.

New bank account-opening forms will mandatorily include a section that will allow people to opt in for mobile banking. RBI has asked banks to make serious efforts to increase awareness and has said that efforts should be made at every interaction - ATMs, branches and passbook printing counters to obtain customers mobile number.

The central bank's move on mobile banking comes at a time when banks are expected to add 15 crore new customers, most of whom will not have any minimum balance requirement. Bankers say that without the heavy use of technology, banks will see their operational costs soar.

Speaking at FICCI's annual banking summit FIBAC in September, RBI deputy governor H R Khan had said that while there are over 900 million mobile users in the country, there are only 40 million mobile banking customers. "This underscores the need for active collaboration between banks and telcos irrespective of the platform, whether it is SMS, smartphone applications or USSD," said Khan.

The deputy governor also said that banks need to see mobile banking as a cost-saving avenue as it would eventually bring down cash-handling charges, rather than as a revenue-generation vertical.