Banking operations have developed very quickly over the past fifty years. With the changes brought about by the introduction of computers customers have seen great improvements in service provision. From single branch businesses banks have developed into multinational organizations. Access to them has become much easier for the average customer with the advent of telephone and online services. It is possible now for a person to do much of life's required banking business from home or even away from it at any hour with the use of internet and telephone banking services. Just a computer is needed or a smart 'phone.
In most advanced western first world countries the concept of a customer being dependent for services on the "home" branch is a thing of the past. If it is not possible to access services online all business can be conducted at any branch of the bank in any town. There is generally no monetary penalty for this certainly none for making a deposit or a withdrawal. Branches have become smaller and staffed by fewer personnel. The introduction of automatic teller machines (ATMs) has contributed greatly to this change. Some banks have developed "retail" branches wherein business is conducted for and by individual customers only. Bank operations with companies, large institutions and other banks is dealt with elsewhere. The benefits to the individual customer are obvious.
Some branches have no staff at all. The ATMs can cope with the dispensing and depositing of funds with only the customer's presence being required. Contact with bank personnel is sometimes available via an automatic telephone service on the premises. Such branches and the services offered are available twenty-four hours a day and on every day of the year. The transition to this kind of branch from the more traditional one staffed by human tellers and banking specialists to deal with mortgages, loans and financial advice including insurance matters and equipped with safe deposit boxes and a bureau de change has not been instantaneous. Such development in banking operations has taken some fifty years and changes and improvements are still occurring.
The modernization of the banking industry has not happened at the same pace in all countries. This particularly the case in the less developed third world countries. Often there are some "hangovers" from previous systems and practices which can take customers used to the full range of modern banking techniques by surprise. Local customs and attitudes can add to the difficulties experienced by other than local customers.
In many countries there is a less than slavish attention given to punctuality. Time scales often have two settings only, now and later, neither of which are clearly defined. It is often irritating and incomprehensible to newcomers to LDCs (Less Developed Countries) that ATMs frequently bear rough notices stating that they can provide "non-financial" transactions only. Usually this means that there has been no cash recharge. Thus one of the major contributors to bank operational efficiency is rendered impotent. The bank is probably not responsible for refilling its ATMs and the security firm whose job it is responds to its own operational needs rather than those of the bank's customers. This "banking" problem should be simple to resolve and it will probably be attended to - eventually.
Often at a bank it all looks like a hive of activity and efficiency but appearances can be deceptive. It will happen that a simple question will result in the answer "You should go to your own branch". The enquiry may have been very general in nature and the answer should be the same wherever the point is posed but the enforcement of customer allegiance to a particular branch is very strong. A reason for adhering to such a branch structure in banking operations is that employment is increased. In a country where the unemployment rate may be well above 50% this is important. Low wages provided to many is better than no wages at all or higher wages to a few.
To ascertain just what frustrations may be expected in banking operations there are a few clues for which to look on a "Golden Rule" (Make no irrevocable moves to towards settlement without having visited the country at least once) visit. If at a government office there are serried ranks of Olivetti and Remington typewriters clattering away and shelves full of bulging paper files then you may be sure that the digital era has barely got a foothold as yet. There may be one machine which looks like a computer work station but it is probably no more than a basically programmable typewriter.
The twenty-first century may be encountered in private organizations such as banks but even here it could be more a facade than a fact. The computer terminals at each employee's desk may have no more reach than a private home PC machine, perhaps even less. Internet access may just not be there. Contact with another employee at the other end of the office may be the full extent of the range. Staff numbers dealing with banking operations may seem surprisingly high.
Again observations on a "Golden Rule" visit can give indications of this phenomenon. On entering a retail establishment it is often seen that every customer is "shadowed" by an assistant. This is done politely with a smile but not unobtrusively. The staff numbers may exceed customers at most times. Usually every employee gets a uniform to go with a low wage and there may be other "non-cash" benefits. Thus national employment is maintained, poverty mitigated and perhaps customers are better satisfied.
There can be other "shocks" that are not obvious. The provision of land-line telephone services can often be difficult to obtain or even impossible in some areas. It is surprising then to find a bank vigorously promoting a telephone banking service as part of its banking operations when it is impossible to contact the bank by telephone other than via a land-line service. Access via a cell (mobile) telephone is not possible - at the bank's choice. The particular bank concerned does not find this in any way strange or illogical. With such things a retiree contemplating residence must live, go elsewhere or stay at home. Just do not laugh or shake the head in a deprecating fashion. All are doing their best for their country and their fellow citizens.
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