Pizza and pasta may be the flavors of the kiddie generation, but for most Indians, the Pani Puri or Gol Gappa will always remain the all-time favorite snack. It’s cheap, hardly hygienic, and eaten standing in a crowded marketplace, and yet it manages to hold its own against well-known fast food chains with swanky interiors, gleaming kitchens and solicitous service.
Maybe our Co-operative Banks could learn a thing or two from this humble snack… to battle the big retail banks with their flashy setup…with good old-fashioned personalized service; to capitalize upon their strengths as the common man’s bank (zero balance, higher interest, absolute trust) against the remote sophistication of modern-day banking; and to attract customers not with frills, but an irresistible value proposition.
That value proposition is about providing some amount of financial security to the typical customer, who wants to safeguard the hard-earned rupees he can ill afford to lose. It’s about bringing him within the fold of formal banking, without imposing conditions of minimum balance or stringent collateral. And it’s about empowering him in small ways to make a big difference to his life.
And believe me, Co-operative Banks with their strong customer relationships and deep roots within the local community, are well positioned to do this. All the need is the right kind of technology. With solutions such as core banking now becoming available in “light” versions, or on the Cloud at a fraction of the cost, Co-operative Banks should look at acquiring them. They can also look at low cost technology platforms, especially mobile banking, to spread their reach. Last but not least, Government should consider helping Co-operative Banks acquire technology solutions enabling them to participate in social welfare schemes.
Do this, and customers will line up outside the doors of Co-operative Banks. Just like they do at the local pani puri joint.