Customer care service by Equity Bank is great, actually so great that when my account lay dormant for several months they took their time to give me a call, not to demand that I should ensure the account is active lest they close it, but to enquire, humanly, how I am doing and if everything is okay with my career, family, and life. That was great and it didn’t take long before I remembered to use the account again…but it was after I had forgotten my Eazzy 247 PIN.
I really don’t know how I forgot the PIN since the fast five digits of my phone lock PIN was supposed to be the Eazzy 247 PIN; and I was damn sure the PIN hadn’t changed. That’s why I entered the same PIN four times and got my Eazzy 247 blocked.
I wasn’t worried as I am privileged to have this direct number to Equity Bank that is never busy. I called and it was answered immediately. Once I explained to the lady on the other end about my predicament, she asked me to visit my branch to apply for a new PIN. That’s when I got irritated.
I didn’t get irritated because her advice lacked customer care tone or because asking me to visit my branch was outrageous, but because I had had a similar experience with M-PESA a few years back. The difference is, when I forgot my M-PESA PIN, the Safaricom Care lady didn’t ask me to visit a local Safaricom shop to get a new M-PESA PIN but instead she asked me a series of questions to verify my identity and once she was satisfied that I am the owner of the Safaricom line, she reset my PIN from where I was able to input a new PIN.
Banks are going Mobile
Why can’t a bank that is going mobile, even acquiring a mobile virtual network license, still require a customer to physically visit a branch simply to have the PIN reset? This is the question that got me irritated. Foremost, the friend who called me to check on my balance badly needed the money sent to his M-PESA urgently. Having to travel to a branch meant keeping him waiting for another three or more hours before he could get his money.
Since I was also informed by the customer care lady that the application would take 24 hours to process, I was also meant to check for my balance by queuing at Customer Service counter at the branch – counters that always have very long queues, have the balance checked and if positive join a longer queue to physically withdraw from the counter – yes I don’t have the ATM card as Eazzy 247 sorted me out even after I lost the card several years back.
To solve my problems, what Equity Bank ought to have done is to enable sorting issues such as forgotten Eazzy 247 PINs online or on phone. It is not difficult really, just as Safaricom does whenever one wants to suspend a line, recall an M-PESA transaction or even ask for PUK, Equity Bank could emulate Safaricom by having their customer care agents ask account holders answer personal questions for the verification of account holders.
As banks become more and more mobile and online, it is necessary for the banks to enable more and more services be available online; thereby lessening even further the requirement that customers have to physically visit bank branches.
One of the wishes of Jubilee government is to make Kenya a cashless society starting with e-payment systems for all government services. Already the county government of Nairobi has implemented e-payment options for various services including parking fees and business license renewal fees.
Sadly, banks, although being the people who handle cash and would benefit a thousand times over if the society is truly cashless, aren’t pioneering the move towards cashless transactions at a rate that is appreciable.
What banks ought to do to ensure that people become more and more cashless is to put all possible services that can be offered online online. One such service is customer identification – and once this has been effectively done, then I am sure no banking service will be impossible to conduct online – be it joint account transactions or otherwise.
Identity verification options
The manual identity verification options that include signing documents by hand, production of IDs e.g. National ID cards or passports, and being seen by the teller can all be replaced by digitized means. Over the phone verification could be through answering a set of secret questions set to a customer’s account, voice verification (Voiceprints), finger print methods via mobile phones such as iPhone 5s, and facial recognition tools via phones’ cameras.
As much as coming up with a seamless system that is both fast and reliable seem to be a feat, I am very sure that a properly designed system would come in handy in eliminating the need for customers to visit banks to carry out the transactions.
Handwritten Signatures are outdated
Now that I am on customer identity verification by banks, allow me to also comment on handwritten signatures. I don’t know what got into me when I formulated my signature at the time of applying for the National ID but mine has caused me a lot of troubles over the years. It is one of those too long ugly signatures that more often than not arouse unwarranted curiosity. I have been asked by several tellers to sign over and again just to get the signature right. I think it’s time banks did away with signing documents and in this case emulate Post Bank by implementing PIN verification gadgets.
With a PIN verification gadget what you would be required to do is to enter your secret PIN to undertake any banking transaction. In this way, banks are able to be truly paperless.