Will bank-wide portals really solve service issues?

As per a report published today, in Business Line, the Finance Ministry has asked public sector banks to explore the feasibility of setting a bank-wide portal.

What this portal will do: This portal is expected to be similar to the online travel portals and allow banking costumers to compare interest rates on deposits and loans across banks at one spot. The report also says that the project to design, build, own and operate the portal is likely to be given to an information technology company. Here you would be able to compare rates, choose the bank you want to get the deposit or loan from and leave your contact details, after which the concerned bank will get in touch you and take the application forward.

Will bank-wide portals really solve service issues?

These portals currently work on two types of models: Compare and Choose. Reuters

Existing portals: While a bank-wide portal is a good idea, such portals already exist and have been popular for more than four-five years. Take for instance, Apnapaisa.com, Bankbazaar.com and Deal4loans.com to name a few. Harsh Roongta, CEO, Apnapaisa.com says, "This is a welcome move. If this data across banks is available to general public, it will be more easily available to portals too. As far as analyzing the data and presentation of the data goes, the consumer is free to choose the portal based on how relevant and easy he finds a particular portal."

Portals like Apnapaisa have been around for more than 4 years and had 17 lakh consumers visit the portal for various banking needs like loans and deposits for last month.

What they offer: These portals currently work on two types of models: Compare and Choose (like the FM ministry's suggested portal), and the End-to End Online-Offline model.

Compare and Choose: Portals like Apnapaisa.com work on this model. They let you compare rates on various types loans, and deposits. They let you compare deals available across public sector, private as well as foreign and co-operative banks. You get to compare products across various parameters like interest rate, processing fees, loan eligibility, and Equated Monthly Installments (EMIs). You have to feed in your basic personal and contact details, which are passed on to the banks or banks' direct selling agents. It's a one-stop-spot to get information across 50 plus banks within a matter of few seconds. The data is provided in a manner where not only rates but other finer details about the product, so you can take an informed decision.

End to End-Online and/or Offline: If you are looking for a loan, portals like Bankbazaar.com and Rupeetalk.com offer not only comparative rates across lenders but also provide end to end online and offline loan application support.

Bankbazaar.com allows you to apply for the loans, and send the necessary basic documents online. Hence, the portal within a matter of seconds lets you know if your loan is approved or rejected.

If you get a loan approval online, the portal representative gets in touch with you for remaining documents and Know Your Customer norms and the loan amount is disbursed by your lender and reaches your bank within a couple of working days. Says, Adhil Shetty, CEO, Bankbazaar, "This is a positive move and the ministry's intention is good, that consumers should get to compare rates. But the drawback with this model is that it focuses on lead generation and may have a low customer service experience." The automated loan applications on few portals lets you compare, apply and get the approval and rejection status on the spot and hence the processing time is quicker.

Portals like Rupeetalk.com let you compare loans, but after that the process shifts offline. Says Satkam Divya, CEO, Rupeetalk.com, "Once you compare rates and zero-down on the provider, our relationship manager gets in touch with you and handholds you through the negotiations, paperwork and offline loan process."

Cost: These services are free on cost. While the finance ministry wants public sector banks to provide a bank wise portal for comparing deposit and loans, such portals have already been popular for a few years. Bankbazaar last month had around 7.5 lakh visitors on its portals, while Rupeetalk had around 2 lakh.

These portals not only let you compare the products across various banks, they also let you expedite the application process. As far as FDs go, they provide finer details like the per-mature withdrawal charges along with the rates. For loans they might offer a better deal, like discounts on processing fees. These portals also offer their expertise, and hence you negotiate from a position of advantage as compared to you walking into your bank branch and applying for a loan.

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 19:26:21 IST

Also See