FOR bank customers who want the convenience of online banking but still do not feel confident enough about using the service yet, there is a software simulation solution they could try to help them make up their mind.
Its called vSIM and it is being marketed by ENOVASIA, a Kuala Lumpur-based company.
vSIM provides customers with the worlds only e-training platform that enables them to learn online banking without having to use their own money first, says ENOVASIAs managing director Dr Sangeeth Segaram.
It allows the customer to engage in experiential learning via a pixel perfect simulation of an online bank.
In other words, it gives customers a chance to test drive a banks online services before they sign up.
Financial institutions worldwide are continuing to invest large amounts in the delivery and introduction of online services, with the twin aims of attracting new customers, and of cutting the cost of providing services to existing customers. However, for most, adoption levels have been much lower than initially forecast, explains Dr Segaram, who came upon the vSIM software solution while he was pursuing a medical degree in England.
Born with an entrepreneurial bug in his system, he became so interested in introducing it to Malaysia that he almost forgot he was in the midst of preparing for his fourth-year medical exams.
After some tough negotiations with the vSIM principals, VeriSIM which is headquartered in Rosyth, Scotland, Dr Segaram managed to secure the rights to market the solution, and now ENOVASIA is the first partner of VeriSIM UK and we are the only people to have secured sole distributorship rights to Malaysia and Singapore, he says.
The vSIM solution is currently being used by The Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB HBOS, Halifax, HSBC UK, Intelligent Finance and Sainsburys Bank.
Quoting the finding of studies done by Prof Bala Shanmugam, chair of accounting and finance and director of the banking and finance unit of Monash University Malaysia, Dr Segaram says there is a slow rate of adoption of Internet banking in Malaysia, and this is complicated by customers lack of self-confidence in performing an online transaction.
Many banks are not providing the support that customers need in order to feel confident about using online banking, he says.
Thats despite having invested large amounts of money in these services. The result? Customers are unlikely to believe in their own ability to successfully use the system. They therefore view online banking as too risky and will simply be unwilling to endanger their own money by signing up.
To address this problem, banks need to provide customers with a convincing yet safe way of learning about the system and its benefits; a learning environment that seems 100% real, while remaining completely risk-free.
ENOVASIA is able to recreate the full user experience of any software product (on-line and off-line) and then to deploy the simulation on the Internet, intranet or even on a CD. All thats required to use the simulation is a standard web browser.
Prof Bala himself has given the thumbs-up for vSIM: This is a boon to our banks which are straddled with low utilisation and acceptance rates of Internet banking.
Based on fairly simple computations, and the track record of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which experienced an Internet penetration rate of 36% in 2003, the vSIM solution was able to successfully increase online banking activation levels by 33% over a duration of six months.
In Malaysia, where the Internet penetration rate stands slightly lower at 33%, banks should achieve an increase in online banking activation of approximately 30% over a similar duration of six months.
Prof Bala says that assuming if a medium-sized Malaysian bank with 30,000 active online customers experiences a 60% increase in activation following a one-year period of deploying vSIM, the bank would save approximately RM927,000.
This is arrived on the basis that an Internet transaction costs one sen relative to using a teller delivery channel, which costs around RM1 per transaction, and assuming that a customer on the average undertakes one transaction per week over six months.
vSIM can also be used to simulate share trading and even teach customers how to pay their income tax online, says Dr Segaram, who is now spearheading the marketing of vSIM to banking and other financial institutions in Malaysia.
However, its most potent value proposition to Malaysia is as an e-training tool for online corporate banking.
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