This could get this writer in trouble, but it has to be said. One of the reasons why women seek the perfect man is so that someone can organise their lives for them, pay the bills and ensure their cell phones are always fully charged!
But maybe there is a simpler solution than looking for the perfect man.
Your bank is now going out of its way to make life simple for you. It offers you online bill payment in addition to online banking, investments and whatever else you need.
ICICI Bank sources say, "Our Internet banking base has been growing at an exponential pace over the last few years. Around 78 per cent of our customer base has registered for Internet banking."
You need a computer with a modem or a dial-up device, a checking account with a bank that offers online service, and the patience to complete a one-page application form, which can usually be done online.
In return, here are the services you will get.
Each bank has tie-ups with various utility companies, service providers and insurance companies across the country. Which means you can pay your electricity and telephone bills, mobile phone, credit card and insurance premium bills online.
You need to complete a simple one-time registration for each billing entity. You can also set up standing instructions online to pay your recurring bills automatically, so that you don't miss out due to lack of time.
The best part: it is free!
You can transfer any amount from one account to another, either in the same bank or another bank. Obviously, this means you can send money anywhere in India.
Once you login to your account, mention the payee's account number, his bank and branch. The transfer takes place in a day or so. Traditionally, funds transfer takes a minimum of three working days.
ICICI Bank cites its online bill payment service and funds transfer as its most popular online services.
Credit card services
Credit card users have more to look forward to. Internet banking lets you pay your credit card bills online and get a loan on your cards. You can also apply for an additional card, request a credit line increase and report a lost card.
This is a great relief to the harried commuter. Indian Railways has tied up with ICICI bank, enabling you to make your railway pass for local trains online.
The pass is delivered to you at your doorstep. But the facility is limited to Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Surat and Pune. The bank charges Rs 10 + a service tax at 12.36 per cent.
Opening a fixed deposit account cannot get easier than this. You can do it through a simple online funds transfer.
If you have an interlinked demat account and bank account, you can trade in the stock market. Rest assured the cash will get debited and shares will get credited automatically.
Most leading banks offer online banking and demat account. If you have a demat account with independent share brokers, you need to sign a special form which will link both your accounts.
Some banks even give you the facility to buy mutual funds, apply for any kind of loan and constantly receive new product information.
You no longer need to rush to the vendor to recharge your prepaid phone every time your talk time runs out. Just top up your prepaid mobile cards by logging in to Internet banking.
Select your operator's name, enter your mobile number and the amount for recharge, and your phone is back in action in minutes.
The expression, shop till you drop, is no longer valid because Internet banking has taken the exhaustion off shopping. Leading banks have tie-ups with various shopping websites.
With a range of all kind of products, you can shop online and pay through your account.
You can also buy rail and air tickets through Internet banking.
Internet banking also offers other benefits
i. Stop payment through Internet banking does not cost extra. When done through your bank branch, you might be charged Rs 50 per cheque plus the service tax.
ii. Tracking your transactions beyond quarterly statements is a long, expensive process in regular banking. The branch may charge you Rs 25 per page (which includes only 30 transactions), and take eight days to deliver. Internet banking lets you do it any time of the day, as often as you want, free of charge.
iii. Transferring funds outstation where the bank does not have a branch, entails outstation charges. Doing the same online is absolutely free.
In their report, Online Banking 2006, the Internet and Mobile Association of India says, "There are many advantages of online banking. It is convenient, it isn't bound by operational timings, there are no geographical barriers and the services can be offered at a miniscule cost."
Not really a catch, but just some things you should be aware of.
i. You need an account with an Internet Service Provider.
ii. Be careful of security concerns, such as hackers accessing your bank accounts.
iii. The initial setup for bill paying is time-consuming, but will ultimately be a time-saver.
iv. Switching banks can be more cumbersome online than in person.
v. You must have basic computer skills and Internet knowledge.
i. Never share personal information – your Personal Identification Number, passwords, etc – with anyone, including employees of the bank.
ii. Safeguard documents that contain confidential information. Do not store PIN or password mailers. Change and memorise your PIN and/or passwords immediately and before destroying the mailers.
iii. Don't provide sensitive account-related information over unsecured e-mails or over the phone. Ensure that the logged in session is signed out properly.
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