With India under complete lockdown for 21 days to curb the spread of coronavirus, top lenders like State Bank of India (SBI), HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank are taking steps to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. Banks have reduced staff, changed timings and are promoting social distancing by asking customers to use internet banking and mobile banking facilities instead of visiting the branches.
Here is a look at what the various banks have announced so far:
HDFC Bank has changed its working hours and will function from 10 am to 2 pm till March 31, except on Saturday.The private sector lender has also temporarily suspended passbook update and foreign currency purchase services. "In the interest of public health and safety, we will be withdrawing the following services temporarily of passbook updates and foreign currency purchase," it said in a communication sent to its customers on Sunday. HDFC Bank has urged people to use cheque drop boxes to help reduce crowding in branches.
ICICI Bank informed its customers through SMS that "our branches shall remain open with required hygiene steps and reduced staff". "For the same reason, our contact centre will also function with reduced staff. We urge you to stay safe and bank from home using iMobile/Internet Banking for all essential banking services," it said in the communication.
India's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) has not changed its working hours. SBI in a tweet said, "Due to COVID-19 crisis, we are operating with limited staff. We, therefore, request you to call us only for emergency matters and prefer to use our digital services which continue to function smoothly.
Kotak Mahindra Bank
Kotak Mahindra Bank informed its customers through email that in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for all its customers and employees, the bank is taking some proactive steps at their branches. Kotak Bank has temporarily revised its business hours w.e.f. 23 March 2020 till 31 March 2020. From Monday to Saturday, the bank timings will be from 10 am to 2 pm. The bank will remain closed on 2nd and 4th Saturday.
The government has reduced charges for digital trade transaction and ATM cash withdrawals to promote digital financial transactions at the time of COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the minimum balance requirement fee has also been withdrawn. At the moment this will apply for three months, Finance Minister informed. It will be applicable for all banks.