National Savings Bank of Pakistan- Stuck in the Past

The Scene:

I knew what that was. THAT  was the standard “ignore-and-avert-eyes” tactic being employed by the mustachioed clerk at the National Savings Bank .

Here I was, a regular Pakistani citizen, pestering the employee with questions when it was quite clear that he had only had his second cup of tea*.  He hung his head lower and buried himself in the busy-work occupying him – actual files and folders cascading all over the desk. (*sarcasm intended)

“Ji, Excuuuse me?! Aap se aik sawaal tha?” (Need to ask you a question?). I badgered the clerk again, weathered by numerous trips to dusty counters much like this one.  “I need to find out some information regarding one of your advertised services.”

“I can’t help you” , came the curt reply and soon after a burdened finger pointed to another counter across the bank – a counter with over ten people waiting to be served.

“If you can just *please* answer a simple question, that would save all of us a lot of time.” I counter, looking at the watch, as Time marched on.

Ignored, once again, I made my way to the other counter, where the line was now twelve people long.

Joy. :/

Many, many precious minutes later,  I was facing another mustache and the Mustache was once again busy ruffling through folders and notebooks with tattered edges, carefully sealed with clear scotch tape.  Yes, actual paper and pens were being used for record-keeping.

I repeated my question.  There was silence, except for the coughing and the whirr of ceiling-fans, point being, my plea was considered. Pondered upon, even!

Maintaining a concrete grip on the Bic pen, scratching out zeros and commas in steady measure, the Mustache spoke up.

“We have run out the particular document you require. Check back after the first.”

A whole 35 minutes after walking into the National Savings Bank, the answer had been received.

“No Service For You.” 

Quite a frustrating and pointless exercise, but I must be honest, it is not only in the government offices that such an attitude is encountered.  Walk yourself down to any commercial bank in the Pakistan and you are bound to meet an disinterested employee who has long perfected the art of ignoring the pesky customers.

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The Breakdown:

For the life of me, the only advanced technology I had witnessed ever since entering the bank was a rechargeable calculator. Not a desktop computer or laptop in sight.

Forget customer service, why is the National Saving’s Bank of Pakistan so technology-averse? I mean, they have a website.

From using ticket machines to regulate the flow of customers in queues to employing a custom-built app to scan and stamp cheques – there are numerous ways that tech could be used to automate repeat tasks at the National Saving’s Bank. 

Not only is the internal functionality of the bank haphazard and inefficient, the overall system that requires those with savings certificates or prize bonds to cash-in in person is archaic.

In an era when shareholders can opt to receive e-dividends, that are directly deposited into their bank accounts, it makes no sense whatsoever that the NSB demands it’s patrons to receive the payments in person. It is common knowledge that the majority of the NSB’s patrons are the elderly and the retired, for whom such monthly visits are both a waste of time and money.  The National Savings Bank should join the 21st century and put the premium on providing swift service for it’s customers.