Money & Banking

Some SBI customers see a/cs shifted to other branches without prior consent

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on February 15, 2018

Exercise aimed at rationalising branches to contain costs

If you have an account with State Bank of India (SBI), it’s time you double-checked the address of your branch.

In an unprecedented move the bank has been shifting some accounts from existing branches to other locations without prior information or consent.

“I was shocked to see a text message from SBI that my account has been shifted from the RP Road branch to Secunderabad with a new IFSC code. I feel I should have been asked for my consent,” a businessman, who did not want to be identified, told BusinessLine here on Thursday.

Our enquiries have revealed that accounts of many customers have been shifted and information was sent to them only after the process was over. While the top executives of SBI preferred not to respond to queries from BusinessLine, the information gathered from the branches revealed that the process was taken up nationally in view of the merger of the associate banks with SBI last year and the drive to contain operational expenses.

Not happy

The customers, however, are unhappy.

“We open accounts based on a variety of factors such as proximity and ease of transactions.

You cannot simply shift my account as per your choice,” complained V Viswanatham, an SBI customer whose account has also been shifted.

Many retail customers and businessmen regularly conduct cash transactions and, hence, proximity of branch and the time taken to complete transaction are factored in while choosing branches.

The ‘unilateral’ shifting of branches may work against this, he added.

SBI is containing operating expenses by “continuing rationalisation of administrative offices and branches” as per the recent presentation on the third quarter ended December 31, 2017.

The number of branches were reduced to 22,584 from 24,017.

The rationale behind rationalisation is not only cost-cutting but also promotion of digital channels.

The share of branch transactions decreased to 21 per cent in December 2017 from 25 per cent in the year-ago period.

There is a continued migration of transactions to digital channels.

From 36 per cent (up 8 per cent year-on-year) share now, the target is 65 per cent in the medium term, SBI said.

But what remains to be seen is whether this move will distance SBI from the common man who still prefers to use branch-based cash transactions?

Published on February 15, 2018

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