Gangway there, ATMs the latest fad here

Kathmandu: Nepali Commercial banks have come of age from brick and mortar — physical branches — to click and pick — e-banking.

The latest trend in electronic banking is Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) — the most popular electronic delivery channel of domestic financial institutions.

From the first ATM launched by Himalayan Bank Ltd in 1995, today there are over 350 ATMs throughout the country. Development banks and finance companies have also climbed aboard the bandwagon as it’s a better way to impress their customers.

Nepal Investment Bank Ltd (NIBL) has the largest network of ATMs with 50 in the country. It is adding around a dozen more soon. While NIC bank does not have its own ATM it is a member of SCT network to give service to its clients. The attraction of ATM can not be overruled as even the first bank of Nepal — Nepal Bank Ltd (NBL) — has also launched its first ATM.

Narahari Dhakal, co-ordinator of NBL’s management committee said the ATM facility would expand the horizons of service-providing objectives of the bank. Customers are also slowly getting into habit of plastic money via debit cards and tend to carry less cash these days. Sabina Shakya, supervisor of NIBL’s card department said, “NIBL has a large extension of its customers as it is providing the option of opening an account for just one rupee.” She added that instead of visiting the bank people prefer to visit ATM booths.

Everything seems to be moving to plastic money. However, there are still some instances where cash is needed. When people need cash, they must have a place to get it and get it fast. “Customers appreciate the convenience of an ATM to access their bank accounts whenever they want to, especially after normal banking hours,” said Karishma Chapagai, assistant executive of cards department, Siddhartha Bank Ltd.

Cards will be the way to go in the future as it’s not safe to carry cash. Also, it’s a hassle to wait in line at banks. The main benefit of ATMs from the customers’ point of view is significant saving of time by the automation of banking services processing and introduction of easy maintenance tools for managing customers’ money. The main advantages of E-banking for corporate customers are reduced costs in accessing and using banking services, increased comfort and time saving — transactions can be made 24 hours a day without requiring the physical interaction with the bank, quick and continuous access to information as they can check on multiple accounts at the click of a button.

Thus for better cash management, ATM card is the most used instrument for e-banking. Due to the nature of the card e-banking transactions have not reached their full-fledged status. Consequently, debit cards from Visa Electron, credit cards and E-payment cards hold the reigning positions. SCT has also created its network of ATMs. There are 19 commercial banks in its network. The SCT network has 307 ATMs — of which 123 are in the valley and 84 outside the valley — excluding 26 ATMs of development Banks and finance companies.