Penalty due to non-payment of bill is not new to anyone of us. And quite obviously, who likes the long procedure of writing a cheque, standing in a long queue and then ensuring that the particular amount is available in your bank account?
Similarly, Mr Sharma, who is on business tour for at least 25 days a month, finds it difficult to clear his dues on time because of his busy schedule.
He, like many of us, was possibly not aware of the online services, banks are offering these days.
With just a click, all his dues would have been cleared long back. However, it's never too late to mend.
Indian banks are trying to make your life easier. Not just bill payment, you can make investments, shop or buy tickets and plan a holiday at your fingertips. In fact, sources from ICICI Bank tell , "Our Internet banking base has been growing at an exponential pace over the last few years. Currently around 78 per cent of the bank's customer base is registered for Internet banking."
To get started, all you need is
a computer with a modem or other dial-up device,
a checking account with a bank that offers online service and
the patience to complete about a one-page application--which can usually be done online.
You can avail the following services.
Bill payment service
Each bank has tie-ups with various utility companies, service providers and insurance companies, across the country. You can facilitate payment of electricity and telephone bills, mobile phone, credit card and insurance premium bills.
To pay your bills, all you need to do is complete a simple one-time registration for each biller. You can also set up standing instructions online to pay your recurring bills, automatically. One-time standing instruction will ensure that you don't miss out on your bill payments due to lack of time. Most interestingly, the bank does not charge customers for online bill payment.
You can transfer any amount from one account to another of the same or any another bank. Customers can send money anywhere in India.
Once you login to your account, you need to mention the payees's account number, his bank and the branch. The transfer will take place in a day or so, whereas in a traditional method, it takes about three working days. ICICI Bank says that online bill payment service and fund transfer facility have been their most popular online services.
Credit card customers
Credit card users have a lot in store. With Internet banking, customers can not only pay their credit card bills online but also get a loan on their cards. Not just this, they can also apply for an additional card, request a credit line increase and God forbid if you lose your credit card, you can report lost card online.
This is something that would interest all the aam janta. Indian Railways has tied up with ICICI bank and you can now make your railway pass for local trains online. The pass will be delivered to you at your doorstep. But the facility is limited to Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Surat and Pune. The bank would just charge Rs 10 + 12.24 per cent of service tax.
Investing through Internet banking
Opening a fixed deposit account cannot get easier than this. You can now open an FD online through funds transfer. Online banking can also be a great friend for lazy investors.
Now investors with interlinked demat account and bank account can easily trade in the stock market and the amount will be automatically debited from their respective bank accounts and the shares will be credited in their demat account.
Moreover, some banks even give you the facility to purchase mutual funds directly from the online banking system.
So you need not worry about filling those big forms for mutual funds, they will now be just a few clicks away. Nowadays, most leading banks offer both online banking and demat account. However if you have your demat account with independent share brokers, then you need to sign a special form, which will link your two accounts.
Recharging your prepaid phone
Now you no longer need to rush to the vendor to recharge your prepaid phone, every time your talk time runs out. Just top-up your prepaid mobile cards by logging in to Internet banking. By just selecting your operator's name, entering your mobile number and the amount for recharge, your phone is again back in action within few minutes.
Shopping at your fingertips
Leading banks have tie ups with various shopping websites. With a range of all kind of products, you can shop online and the payment is also made conveniently through your account. You can also buy railway and air tickets through Internet banking.
Internet banking versus traditional method
Inspite of so many facilities that Internet banking offers us, we still seem to trust our traditional method of banking and is reluctant to use online banking. But here are few cases where Internet banking will turn out to be a better option in terms of saving your money.
'Stop payment' done through Internet banking will not cost any extra fees but when done through the branch, the bank may charge you Rs 50 per cheque plus the service tax.
Through Internet banking, you can check your transactions at any time of the day, and as many times as you want to.
On the other hand, in a traditional method, you get quarterly statements from the bank and if you request for a statement at your required time, it may turn out to be an expensive affair. The branch may charge you Rs 25 per page, which includes only 30 transactions. Moreover, the bank branch would take eight days to deliver it at your doorstep.
If the fund transfer has to be made outstation, where the bank does not have a branch, the bank would demand outstation charges. Whereas with the help of online banking, it will be absolutely free for you.
As per the Internet and Mobile Association of India's report on online banking 2006, "There are many advantages of online banking. It is convenient, it isn't bound by operational timings, there are no geographical barriers and the services can be offered at a miniscule cost."
Customers should never share personal information like PIN numbers, passwords etc with anyone, including employees of the bank. It is important that documents that contain confidential information are safeguarded. PIN or password mailers should not be stored, the PIN and/or passwords should be changed immediately and memorised before destroying the mailers.
Customers are advised not to provide sensitive account-related information over unsecured e-mails or over the phone. Take simple precautions like changing the ATM PIN and online login and transaction passwords on a regular basis. Also ensure that the logged in session is properly signed out.