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Virtual banking

By Nickunj Malik - Mar 15,2017 - Last updated at Mar 15,2017

Now the thing is this, I might never admit it in public, but I’m scared of banks. It is not such a big deal since everyone, in their own way, is intimidated by some place or the other — like hospitals, police stations, airports, morgues and so on. However, my case becomes exceptionally peculiar because I have been married to a banker, for the last three decades.

In these years, some of the confidence that my spouse has when he strides inside a bank should have rubbed off on me. In fact, dealing with the banking system, ought to have become second nature to me, and terms like ‘debit, credit, account opening/closing, interest rate, deposit, withdrawal, balance’ etc., could have tripped off my tongue, at the drop of a hat. Alas! I’m sorry to report that none of the above happened, and I remained as nervous about approaching an Automatic Teller Machine as I ever was. If it was placed anywhere in the vicinity of a bank, that is.

So, what was it about a bank that frightened me? How could buildings, where formally dressed men and women were busy dealing with a lot of other people’s money, be scary? These were places with carpeted floors and plush glass-lined corridors into which customers walked in to have serious discussions about how to double their savings. What could be frightening about money talk?

Well, for people like me, that was precisely the problem. Talking about money was the petrifying part, even when the conversation was about my own finances. And that was because I didn’t have a head for figures. But surprisingly, I could remember numbers. So if I put in a fixed deposit of a certain amount for a particular length of time, I could recall the amount at the beginning of the transaction, but could never calculate how much it would become eventually. Every time I tried to evaluate it, I managed to reach a different result.

Therefore what I really liked was net and phone banking. In virtual space it became easier to ask the same questions repeatedly, without the fear of annoying any relationship managers.

Ironically, while I personally veered towards virtual banking, my long connection to my banker husband, established some unrealistic expectations with certain people. They started assuming that I was an extension of his workplace, and whatever problems they had with his financial institution, could now be communicated to me.

If the operator did not pick up the telephone in his bank, I was informed, when a computerised voice at the answering service directed them to the wrong department, the complaint came to me. If someone needed a new chequebook, or worse, if anyone’s cheque bounced, it was conveyed to me. Initially, I tried saying that I had nothing to do with all this, but after my husband lectured me on polite etiquette towards all concerned, I began to nod my head in response. Still, it only meant that I stood with them in solidarity, against a common adversary. 

“Guess what happened in Cape Town?” my Brazilian friend cried on the phone.

“Tell me,” I prompted. 

“The ATM machine swallowed my card,” she exclaimed in an incredulous voice. 

“Oh no!” I sympathised. 

“Can you have it rescued?” she requested. 

“Me?” I squeaked in response. 

“The card was from your bank,” she accused. 

I shook a fist at my absent spouse.

 

“Just get it back,” she instructed when I didn’t reply.

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