The Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) is encouraging customers to make use of electronic banking services, assuring them that banking institutions have gone to considerable length to address security issues, particularly in respect of Internet and mobile banking.
At the launch of an electronic banking campaign in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, ABM chairman Dr Rozali Mohd Ali acknowledged that security fears could be a matter of concern for bank customers.
(But) the way the system is designed, all transactions are audited and encrypted so that the likelihood of mishaps is very small. If something does go wrong, through a proper audit trail, the mishap could be solved, Rozali told reporters after the launch of the campaign by Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
In her address, Dr Zeti said the number of cheques processed through clearing centres had shown a declining trend in volume and value. In contrast, Giro payments had quadrupled, while Internet fund transfers and payments were also on the uptrend.
Of the ABM's 23 member banks, 12 now offer Internet banking services and five mobile banking.
There are an estimated one million subscribers to Internet banking in the country, but it is unclear how many are active users.
According to The Asian Banker, less than 2% of bank customers access Internet banking services in Malaysia, compared with 9% in Singapore, South Korea and Japan, 8% in Hong Kong, and 7% in Taiwan.
Dr Zeti said that the attention at the highest management level of banking institutions was vital to ensuring the formation of the best information and communications technology initiatives for banks to remain competitive.
In his speech, Rozali said banks had invested large amounts of resources and expertise to deploy many new electronic delivery channels and payment facilities using a variety of modes, including telephones, mobile devices, and the Internet.
The e-banking campaign would not only emphasise the convenience and flexibility offered by electronic banking products and services, but also stress that transactions could be done whenever, wherever, safely and securely.
Touching on economic growth, Dr Zeti said there could be a revision to the government's initial forecast of 4.5% for the country this year, as recent developments such as the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the war in Iraq certainly would affect the underlying growth figure.
But much would also depend on the outlook for the second half of the year, she said, adding that first-quarter growth figures were due for release later this month.
The SARS outbreak and the Iraq war have left their mark on the economy already, with consumer spending markedly down. When asked whether bankers had suggested the government cut interest rates to boost spending but which would then compress bank margins Rozali indicated bankers had differing opinions on the matter.