RAKUB’s uphill journey to computerization

--Khandoker Golam Mostafa

Khandoker Golam Mostafa

The business applications of IT have brought a paradigm shift in banking sector around the globe. The application of IT in banking sector provides enormous benefits to the banks as well as its customers. Banks in Bangladesh also have witnessed a sea change in the use of information technology during the last couple of decades. Compared to the state-owned banks, the country’s private banks have gone so far in exploitation of IT that practically we have been experiencing two types of banking in the country: the private commercial banks pursuing modern banking with the help of the state-of-the-art technology based core banking system (CBS)  are in the right track, while the state-owned banks still fumbling and following old fashioned legacy type of branch banking computerization. One is online banking while the other branch-centric offline banking. The position is such that if the state-owned banks want to rise to the occasion, they have to put extra efforts. Hopefully, they are shrugging off age-old inertia to attain an equality of standard with that of the private banks. RAKUB is also no exception, so far the use of IT is concerned. To cope with the advancement RAKUB has intensified IT related activities.

RAKUB has been implementing a five-year ICT plan entitled ‘ICT Plan: 2009-2010 to 2013-2014’ approved by the Ministry of Finance. At present 186 branches out of 376 of the bank are computerized. The Bank envisages computerizing all of its branches by March 2015.

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RAKUB has a plan of introducing online banking in 2015. The Bank has already set up a device that has been almost ready to use datacenter in its head office.  In the current year the Bank’s Board of Directors have given nod to ‘Core Banking Solution Implementation Plan: 2014-2015 to 2017-2018′. The project will cost Tk. 1035.00 million. According to the plan the Bank will roll out CBS in 25 pilot branches during 2015-2016.

Private banks’ branches are fewer in numbers and are located in the well communicated urban areas. RAKUB on the contrary has so many branches which are located predominantly in rural areas. As a result, RAKUB is beset with lots of problems in its journey to computerization. Let us elucidate some of the problems that RAKUB faces to computerize its branches, lying mainly in the far-flung rural areas. These are:

Inadequate manpower

RAKUB has been facing acute shortage of manpower specially in rural branches. It is often very difficult to find right men to be entrusted with the duties of computer in charge of the branch.

Lack of adequate training

Adequate training to the concerned branch people could not be ensured. Because if they are called for training the question arises that who will be performing duties related to them in their absence.

Incapability of manpower to receive training

Sometimes it is difficult to find out branch personnel in rural areas ready to receive training. They generally avoid IT related training for two reasons: i) they think themselves to be unsuitable for such training, ii) they think it to be extra burden to be involved in IT related jobs.

Lack of interest in adoption of technology

Sometimes branch manager or second officer of the branch feel general apathy to embrace technology.

Monitory lapses

The head office department entrusted with the duty of monitoring the branches is not adequately manned. So, it is not always possible to monitor branches.

Load shedding

Load shedding is a regular feature in rural branches impeding computer operations.

Lack of vendors’ cooperation Representatives of the vendors are less interested to go to the rural branches. In most cases they fail to provide support in time.

Software Problem

RAKUB’s branch-banking software is not a foolproof one. Besides, the software needs to be customized often as a result of regulatory changes or changes demanded by the bank. The bank has to solely depend on the vendor for such customization who often fails to do it in time.

Hardware Problem

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Frequent load shedding in branches cause hardware problems. The bank lacks in efficient manpower to attend the problems as and when needed.

RAKUB, however, has been going forward facing all these problems bravely. It dreams of bringing all the technology based services to the doorsteps of the farmers within the next couple of years.