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Banking: SMS Alert Charts, Fingerprint Scanners on Card Machines, Use Grocery Stores as ATM

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SMS Alerts on Usage Basis Only

Banks use SMS alerts to tell you about your account balance, any transactions and so on. These alerts are now charged for by most banks, largely on a fixed-cost basis. Customers with low usage will pay a larger cost, compared to those that use accounts constantly. Banks have been told to charge users on actual usage.

Impact: SMS charges have been increased ever since SMS spam has proliferated. You can easily expect a charge of 10-30 paise per SMS, since banks will add their margin. Hopefully banks will be able to use IP based products instead of SMS in the near future, reducing transaction costs to near zero (using email/Whatsapp/Googlechat/Skype instead of SMS, for instance).

Biometric Aadhaar Based Identification For Card Machines

Sick of entering pins and passwords? You might be able to use a fingerprint or a retina scan soon. RBI has mandated that all new devices deployed by banks as “card present” infrastructure, such as card swiping machines, must have biometric validation of Aadhaar users.

I’m not as concerned about privacy as many are, as I think this will hugely benefit the illiterate, the poor and the old and technology-intimidated. The positives outweigh the negatives. It’s quite likely we get such mechanisms in online stores soon as well – imagine, for instance, that you had a fingerprint reader on your phone that can be used to validate your purchase online or such.

SBI enables PoS based Cash Withdrawals

You can now get cash from a local store or petrol pump rather than go to an ATM, if you own an SBI card.  The Hindu reports:

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, SBI is allowing cash withdrawal of up to Rs 1,000 from any shop/trader with a point-of-sale (PoS) terminal.

“A fee of Rs 7.50 will be charged to the customer, a part of which goes to the trader. Actually, it is a win-win situation for all,” Sadanand, a senior SBI official looking after ATMs and alternative channels told Business Line.

While this sounds very good, it will probably be used only where there is no other ATM available – such as in rural or semi-urban settings. In cities, you can see ATMs within walking distance of most establishments, and in India, because of RBI rules, you can withdraw money from any bank’s ATM (four transactions free a month). For the crowd that needs Rs. 1000, the walk to the ATM will be quite worth the money.

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