Do it yourself and get more
Banks are offering enhanced internet banking services that not only save time and money but also give higher deposit rates and lower fees.
'Do It Yourself" (DIY), a trendy consumer lifestyle concept widely known in the interior decoration field, is extending its reach to the financial world, redefining the way banks are offering their services.
An applicant for a motorcycle loan is interviewed online by WorldLease’s credit evaluation staff during last year’s trial run of SAMM, a system that automates the loan application process. The machines have been installed at motorcycle shops in 46 provinces.
For now, DIY financial transactions are seen only in the online or internet channel. They are made available by several banks seeking to make internet banking more convenient for customers.
But convenience is not the only thing clients are looking for. That is why several of these banks are offering incentives to attract more clients to do their transactions online under the DIY concept.
Among the incentives are lower fees and higher deposit rates when compared to traditional banking service.
Foremost among the products is the "Me by TMB" programme by TMB Bank. Launched last year, it aims to catch up with changing consumer lifestyles.
True to its slogan, "Do It Yourself to Get More", Me's savings deposits offer an interest rate of 3% per year compared with the 0.25% market rate.
Applicants must apply to join the programme at www.mebytmb.com. After that they have to identify themselves at Me Places, the branches of Me. There are now three Me Places in Bangkok: at CentralWorld and Esplanade Ratchadaphisek and on Silom Road.
As well, customers must have at least one regular deposit account linked to their Me accounts for money transfers. The bank allows Me-linked accounts up to three for each client due to security reason although banks generally allow internet banking users to add an unlimted number of their own accounts.
Customers can make deposits through five channels:
- Money transfer via automatic teller machine (ATM) of both TMB and other banks.
- Cash deposit via automatic deposit machine (ADM) of both TMB and other banks.
- Cheque deposit at Me Place.
- Cash transfer via internet banking.
- Cash deposit at TMB branches.
For cash withdrawals, the choice is down to two: money transfers to linked accounts via internet banking or call centre, and cash withdrawals from linked accounts through regular channels.
The services under Me by TMB cover deposits, withdrawals, transfers and inquiries. Transactions can be done via internet banking everywhere and anytime, as well as at Me Place branches, where internet banking service, ATMs and ADMs are also available. Passbooks and ATM cards are not needed when making deposits to Me accounts.
Benjamart Lertpaiboon, 30, an employee at a private company and a Me customer, said she was attracted by the high interest rate of 3%.
She feels the processes of cash deposits and withdrawals is quite complicated due to the requirement for transfers to the linked account first. However, it is not a problem for her because she mainly uses the account for long-term saving rather than routine spending.
"Normally, I deposit once a month and let the money stay in the account for a certain period as a long-term investment. That way, I get a better return compared with general savings accounts," she said.
Krung Thai Bank also offers a special internet banking service called KTB netbank, which offers higher interest rates for both savings deposits and fixed deposits. It also provides a special rate for money transfer fees.
In applying for a netbank deposit account, customers also get ATM or debit cards.
For savings deposits, the state bank offers two types of accounts: Net Saving, a primary savings account for daily use, and Net Special Saving, which offers a 0.5% higher interest rate than that of Net Saving.
For fixed-deposit accounts, Net Fixed gives a higher interest rate of up to 3.6% per year. The rates, however, depend on deposit terms, which start from 1.1%, said senior executive vice-president Anuchit Anuchitanukul.
Users can open KTB netbank accounts online. They can also make transfers and bill payments from smartphones, tablets or personal computers.
What sets the service apart is the ability to make a video call and ask a KTB net officer to make the transactions as if they were at bank branches. The operating hours for the service are 5am to 11pm.
"KTB netbank or Visual Bank is a full banking service that users can operate through mobile phones, computers or tablets. This is easier than going to a bank branch and better than internet banking in that they get higher interest rates for deposits and lower transaction fees with a strong security system," Dr Anuchit added.
The security features are user ID/password, mobile OTP (one-time password) and face-to-face conversation with a net officer to identify an account's ownership.
Clients who apply to use KTB netbank until Feb 28, 2013 will receive a waiver of the annual fees for the first year for their Visa netbank debit cards, SMS alerts, SMS login notifications and SMS transaction notifications.
Another DIY financial service has recently been made available for motorcycle loan applicants. The self-applying machine for motorcycle loans (SAMM) was created by WorldLease, the motorbike leasing unit of CIMB Bank Thai.
Anyone looking to borrow to buy a motorcycle can apply by himself at the machines which are installed at motorcycle shops. Each application takes 30-60 minutes to process depending on the documents provided by the applicant.
WorldLease managing director Thaveepol Chareonkittikunpisal said 180 machines have been installed at motorcycle shops in 46 provinces. The number will rise to 200 machines nationwide by year-end.
"Consumer behaviour has changed. They expect more convenience and better speed when doing financial transactions."
After the machine launch in the middle of last year, loan applications via the machines have increased. The ratio of loan approvals using the new system and traditional credit staff is now 50:50, he said.
"Hopefully, the machines would help us reduce operating costs in the longer term, allowing us to charge lower rates," Mr Thaveepol added.
Motorcycle buyers who want to apply for loans through the innovative channel simply insert their smart ID cards in the machine and talk with the company's staff on screen to request a credit application form.
After the machine reads the ID card, the staff can get his or her personal data including credit bureau record. WorldLease staff then interview the applicant in real time before making the decision.