Over five years ago, I’d written a post titled Cheque Deposit Systems — Are They Really Worth It? During the next couple of years, I’d found this equipment to be down every other time that I’d visited the bank’s branch to pay my credit card bill. My overall poor experience with this technology led me to conclude, in a follow up post titled Technologies Without Tradeoffs, that CDS was a bad tradeoff between cost reduction and customer convenience. I then discovered Visa CardPay, the online credit card bill payment service from Visa. Thanks to this service, I’ve managed to stay away from CDS for the past few years.
Until last month, that is.
Visa CardPay only permits payments up to INR 49,999 (~US$ 1,000) per day. Since my latest bill was much higher than this ceiling, I was compelled to visit the branch to pay it. Even as I set out to do so, I was making contingency plans for alternative modes of payment if I were to encounter a malfunctioning CDS when I visited the branch. These were quite painful: Either I’d to repeat Visa CardPay over multiple days or travel 10 extra kms to drop the cheque in a third-party courier company’s drop box (ever since it installed CDS, the bank removed all drop boxes from its premises).
Thankfully, I was spared the pain. When I reached the bank’s 24/7 self-service center, which is located beside its branch premises and houses its ATMs, Kiosks and other equipment, I couldn’t find the CDS where I’d last remembered seeing it. I went inside the branch to inquire about its new location. An embarrassed receptionist told me that the bank had removed the Cheque Deposit System since it had inordinately increased transaction processing times, led to longer queues and failed too often for comfort. So, it was back to the good old drop box inside the self-service center. As was the case before CDS entered the picture several years ago, I was able to drop the cheque into the drop box and be out of the bank in less than a minute.
As a customer, I’m glad that the bank decided to scrap the Cheque Deposit System. However, as a career IT professional, I fear that moves like this don’t bode well for the greater adoption of technology in financial services. IMHO, technology providers are to blame more often than not for this situation.