Wednesday, November 02, 2005

More ATMs or less

SBI has the largest number of ATMS in the country (I am not sure if this includes the ATMs owned by their other State Banks (the State Bank of Mysore, Bikaner, Travancore etc.). What better way to do it than through an unpredictable advertisement.ICICI was perhaps the largest until recently. But is this the best way to go?

Many of the smaller banks have formed networks by allowing inter accessibility to each others ATMS. Some banks charge the customers, while some others give inter accessibility free. Anybody who has been at an ICICI or Citi ATMs will swear by the queues it has on most days. Since these banks have their own network which is pretty big, they do perceive a gain by offering inter accesibility. On the contrary linking up offers the benefit of less queues in general. I can choose to withdraw from the ATM near my house (a UTI bank ATM which appears abandoned except for a lone security guard) thanks to my bank which allows me to use networks of other banks.

Two contrary strategies each with their flaws and advantages. IMHO as it has always been, the way to the future is collaboration and we will get to see more of it than banks building their own ATM networks. On a seemingly related note, why did we never see a bank branch that serviced more than one bank?

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