Surprisingly for a Saturday morning the state bank of India branch where i have my account was rather empty. No sooner had I got a ticket to get at the back of the virtual queue I found my ticket number being called. This being March when one expects economic activity to be high I wonder if this is an indicator of a showdown.

As soon as I reached the counter the first thing the clerk asked me was if i had complied with the know your customer norms. I guess this must be a fallout of the recent sting operation against some banks with respect to money laundering. As it happened the account to which I was transferring money was not compliant. It didn’t even have my address or date of birth. I was summarily told I wouldn’t be able to operate it unless I provide the necessary operations.

I classify banks as human and computer. Private and foreign banks are what I call computer banks. They have excellent online banking, phone banking  and are great at executing routine tasks. However ask them to do something non standard or something that required human intelligence and they falter badly. The processes are so strict the front line staff are not empowered at all.

PSU banks on the other hand are human banks. Online banking sucks as does phone banking. You don’t get door delivery of demand drafts. However these banks are great at empowering their front line staff thanks to which you can expect to get superior service.

A minute after the clerk told me that I wouldn’t be able to operate my public provident fund account because it didn’t comply with the norms she noticed that the cheque I’d written out was from the same bank. Let me see if this account is compliant, she said.  It turned out that my savings account was fully compliant.
It was only a matter of minutes after that. She quickly copied out the necessary information from my savings account to my provident fund account and then called the bank manager to immediately approve the compliance. In another five minutes the money had been duly transferred and my work was done.

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