Money & Banking

Covid-19 : Banks urge public to avoid visiting branches, use digital services

Chennai | Updated on March 19, 2020

Although there is no evidence yet on the community transmission of coronavirus (Covid-19) in India, banks are not leaving any chance in their effort to contain the spread of the disease. From SMS alerts to email and social media campaigns, public and private sector banks are urging their customers to refrain from visiting their branches to avoid the spread of the virus, and to use mobile and internet banking services to reduce currency transactions.

In a social media post, the country's largest public sector lender State Bank of India (SBI) asked its customers to use electronic payment options like RTGS, NEFT, internet banking and mobile banking solutions. It also urged customers to minimise face-to-face meeting and use credit and debit card for payments instead of currency.

"Avoid Walk-in, start login", the lender's social media post read.

As the coronavirus is believed to stay on surfaces for days in their fully active state, banks are also urging its customers to avoid currency note transactions and switch to contactless payment methods.

In an email sent to its customers, Axis Bank MD & CEO Amitabh Chaudhry, said “While we are always ‘Dil se Open’ for you at all our branches, you may want to avoid going to a branch at this juncture. This is a great time for you to try our best-in-class digital solutions. Axis Bank has digital channels like Internet Banking, Mobile Apps, Chatbot, etc, which enable our customers to reach the Bank anytime and from anywhere.”

“We are sanitizing and fumigating our premises frequently and providing access to alcohol-based hand sanitizers across locations,” Chaudhry wrote adding that bank is constantly monitoring the evolving situation around Covid-19 and taking proactive steps to safeguard all employees and customers visiting our offices, branches and ATMs.

In an SMS alert to its customers Kotak Mahindra Bank said, "..due to Covid-19 and as a measure of abundant caution, our offices will operate with reduced staff. We encourage you to use Mobile/Net Banking for 24/7 access to your accounts."

IDBI and Lakshmi Vilas Bank have also sent SMS alerts to its customers urging them to use its digital banking, mobile apps and credit and debit cards and avoid visit to their branches.

The Reserve Bank of India on Monday urged the general public to utilise the digital payment options. "RBI wishes to bring to the notice of the general public that non-cash digital payment options (like NEFT, IMPS, UPI and BBPS) are available round the clock to facilitate fund transfers, purchase of goods / services, payment of bills, etc," the Central bank said in a press statement.

"In the context of the efforts to limit the fallout of the corona virus pandemic by avoiding social contact and visit to public places, public can use these modes of digital payment from the convenience of their homes through online channels like mobile banking, internet banking, cards, etc. and avoid using cash which may require going to crowded places for sending money or paying bills," RBI's statement added.

Published on March 19, 2020

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