Lokeshwarri SK

The cost of Jan Dhan

Lokeshwarri SK | | Updated on: Jan 21, 2015
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Harried PSB staff and frayed tempers to the fore

A recent visit to a public sector bank set me thinking on how well equipped our banks are to handle the deluge of customers who will stream into their branches once the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana really takes off. A small-time building contractor was trying to get money transferred to some other city. The woman at the counter, already irritated after explaining the nuances of bank transactions to various people of varying ages and varying levels of education, lost her cool and yelled at the building contractor to fill out the requisite form to get his work done. The contractor stood his ground and insisted he had followed a particular method of transferring money for the last 20 years and did not see the need to change it now.

Clearly, the load in PSBs is proving to be taxing, given that they also have to deal with the less affluent and educated section of the society. The recent push by PSBs to popularise net banking and the usage of ATMs is understandable since that is the way to reduce the traffic in their branches and improve employee efficiency.

According to the RBI, employee productivity is the lowest in nationalised banks with profit per employee of ₹0.65 million. In contrast, foreign banks score ₹4.5 million on this metric. Nationalised banks employ around 8 lakh staff, accounting for more than 70 per cent of the banking workforce.

With PSU banks having to support the government in all its financial inclusion drives, these numbers are not surprising. It is now apparent that it is the PSU banks that have to deal with the customers entering the banking stream through the Jan Dhan Yojana too. The over 8 crore new accounts opened under this scheme is going to make life tough for bank employees.

Hand-holding the under-privileged in opening a bank account, in becoming financially savvy, and in breaking free from the shackles of money lenders — all these are ideas worth lauding. But spare a thought for the staff and to the banks’ deteriorating productivity ratios.

Deputy Editor and Head of Research

Published on January 21, 2015

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