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Paperless banking and why does it matter?


The clarion call by banks in Zimbabwe, to adopt, paperless banking may have left many with unanswered questions. Banks like CBZ, CABS, to mention a few have already indicted to their customers that they are going paperless. People may have fears on the direct and indirect effects of this move towards their them.

By David Mhlanga

This article will try to answer some questions which may run in the minds of customers. What is paperless banking?

Paperless banking refers to the use of electronic and telecommunication networks to deliver a wide range of value added products and services to bank customers.

The use of information technology in banking operations is called electronic banking. Paperless banking is an umbrella term for the process by which a customer may perform banking transactions electronically, without visiting a brick and mortar institution.

Paperless banking became popular in the 1980s and it referred to the use of a terminal, such as a keyboard and monitor, to access the banking system using a phone line and desktop.

This approach relies on automated machines controlled by the user who inputs instructions of the customer and the output is worked out in the systems as put across by David Hoyle in 2002.

Today’s service environment is extremely dynamic as a result of rapid technological innovations, increased awareness and demands that banks serve their customers efficiently and at the most competitive cost.

Information and communication technology (ICT) is at the centre of this global change curve of electronic banking system.

Why does paperless banking matter?

Customers have access to banking information 24/7. The customer can access bank accounts online and from mobile devices whenever he/she want to check the status of a transaction, see account balances, pay bills, and more.

Find transactions quickly

Customers will know exactly what transactions are still outstanding, as long as they have kept an electronic check register.

Electronic statements

Customers can download or view account statements online each month and have access to banking statements from previous months and years.

Rather than having to wait to get paper statement in the mail, they can typically access the electronic version within 24 hours of its posting.

Improved account management

Customers can help reduce the risk of fraudulent and unauthorised transactions, because they are able to access information electronically and they will notice when something does not look right.

They can find out if their accounts might be compromised sooner, rather than later when they get a paper statement in the mail and run the risk of numerous fraudulent transactions during the statement period.

Online bill payment services

Customers do not have to worry about keeping paper checks around the home. As a bank customer you can schedule and pay bills online.

Reduced risks of identity theft

Identity theft is a big concern. Customers do not have to worry about various disposal methods for getting rid of old paper bank statements when using paperless banking.

Some people will go to great lengths to steal someone’s identity, even going through their trash looking for bank statements.

Helps the environment

Going paperless helps the environment, since customers are not wasting paper on bank statements or paper cheques. Plus, using less paper helps preserve our forests and reduce pollution.

More customer service options

Many people enjoy being able to have access to self-service features like online banking and electronic statements. This enables them to access their account details when it is convenient for them.

In addition, they have access to complete and accurate information.

Going paperless enhances the buying experience for customers, making payments easier than ever before. This will also help to boost efficiency in the business world.

Transaction costs are reduced as travel expenses will be reduced.

For instance, farmers can buy inputs direct from the rural areas once they have access to the internet.

Paperless banking is a boon for financial inclusion.

It is estimated that by using a paperless system, major banks and financial institutions stand to cut down operating expenses by as much as 25%.

Financial crisis

Paperless banking in Zimbabwe can help to instil a culture in many that plastic money is a reality.

This will also help many to change their attitude towards plastic money. When this happens, this will help many people in Zimbabwe who are finding it difficult to buy using plastic money, as many insist that they need liquid cash when buying or making various payments.

The disposable incomes of quite a number of people will also be boosted, because they will buy direct using plastic money without any need to buy cash from the black market.

David Mhlanga is a doctoral fellow in Economics North West University South Africa. He can be contacted on dmhlanga67@gmail.com

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