When you make a financial transaction with your local bank, whether it’s an ATM cash withdrawal, bank deposit, cheque or any online transaction, the account owner receives a text message confirming that the financial operation has been completed.
This is how SMS notification service from banks works in theory.
But usage of SMS is also how many other services operate as well, for example:
- Twitter SMS notifications, they send you tweets in SMS
- Your mobile account notifications, as you are notified about the transactions or remaining balance
- ISPs: Majority of ISPs interact with customers through notifying them account related info
- And countless other brands that we use.
The only difference with SMS notifications from banks is that they are charged at Rs. 100 per month, while all other notification services in the world are pretty much free.
The Pros of SMS Banking Notifications
There’s no questioning that SMS notification services are useful. Not only do the customers get information when their transaction has been completed, it also acts as a security measure against any fraudulent activity.
Staying up to date with what comes into your bank account or what goes out is very helpful. Banking customers can know whenever a dubious transaction is made, whether it’s a money transfer into or out of your account.
While money transfers into the account aren’t that dangerous, anything that goes out of the account should be monitored. In case such a thing happens, the user would immediately know of it and can call the bank for more details or to notify them of a fraudulent transaction, preventing such transactions from happening.
Banks Charge More For This Basic Service
We don’t deny the usefulness of the SMS notification feature. However, banks are fleecing their customers when they register for this service (sometimes without their knowledge).
Most banks charge Rs. 100 (Rs. 116 when inclusive of taxes) only for the SMS transaction alerts you get.
It is unethical to deduct upwards of Rs. 100 just for an automated SMS feature. Banks are already profiting from the consumers money, then why the additional charge? Such a cheap feature should come free of cost.
Banks pay a negligible amount for SMS Transaction Alerts
Telecom providers and other companies do not charge for the service messages they send.
Banks and such companies (except telecom providers) buy bulk SMS packages or set up custom SMS servers to send out message notifications.
The cost of the whole thing is negligible when considered on per-customer basis. Despite that, the banks charge each customer heavily and make loads of revenue for something which costs them almost nothing.
When you withdraw, transfer or deposit, the bank often charges the customer separately (especially if the transaction is related to another bank). Those charges, which themselves are unjustified in this age of digital money transfer, should bear the cost of these notifications as well.
Almost all major banks have digitized their systems, yet they continue to charge for everything which is offered free-of-cost worldwide.
Worst part is that most banks subscribe their customers for this service automatically and start charging for it, and that too without their knowledge. Some users might not even require the service and they only get to know about it once they check their statements and then go through the trouble of asking the bank.
App Notifications Are An Alternative
The entire world is moving towards online or app notifications. Why can’t our banks follow suit and move in the same direction?
Electronic notifications will save money and be more reliable than an SMS service for all consumers who have internet access. The users can be given even more details using online notifications.
There’s not much left to discuss other than that customers should complain to the State Bank of Pakistan and the banks.
It is most regrettable that banks continue to plunder us and retrieve this monthly or annual “bhatta” from the people of Pakistan.
We also ask the users to stand up and ask for the removal of these unjustified transaction charges.