I don’t get surprised anymore when my office colleagues tell me that they don’t know where their salary account bank branch is located in their city. It’s because banks today provide decent online banking services allowing you to forget the need-to-plan-a-visit-to-my-bank.
So how good are these services and how far are we from a truly branch-less banking experience in India? Woikr reviews and compares for you two of the most frequently used internet banking services available by Indian banks: ICICI Netbanking and HDFC Netbanking.
After State Bank of India, which is unarguably the most widely used bank in India, both ICICI and HDFC banks are amongst the top Indian banks in terms of customer base, infrastructure and facilities provided and both have fairly succeeded in providing powerful Netbanking services.
The common do-it-from-home facilities that both these Netbankings provide to their customers are:
As a regular user of both these Netbanking facilities since last 3 years, I can say that the above services really do save me the bother of standing in queues at a local branch.
So far so good. Now the what’s-missing-by-whom part! A closer look reveals that both these vary significantly and that ICICI Netbanking is better than HDFC Netbanking by leaps and bounds in terms of facilities.
Here is a comparison of their services feature-by-feature:
Transfer of Funds: This is a major difference. ICICI Netbanking’s Funds Transfer facility is much more hassle-free as compared to HDFC’s Third Party Transfer (TPT) facility. The problem arises not in using the service but in applying to the service. The facility to transfer funds to yours or someone else’s account, at intra or inter-bank branch, comes readily with the ICICI Netbanking subscription. That is, the facility is ready to use and you just need to add-in the new beneficiary for making the first transfer.
However, HDFC doesn’t agree to this simplicity and requires you to apply to this service by filling up a hard copy of the Third Party Transfer Application Form and submitting it to any of their Bank branches or ATM. Now when we are striving for branch-less banking, this looks off-the-road to me. Moreover, user experiences say that the application is not processed promptly if you deposit the activation form at an ATM, and may cause further delays upto weeks. Hence, it is preferred to walk into the HDFC bank and talk to the representative for activation (walking is good for health seems to be HDFC’s hidden motto here!) 🙂
Applying for new Accounts: You can initiate the opening of a variety of accounts online through ICICI Netbanking by submitting an online request with the details. For certain accounts like the Recurring Deposits, the request gets completed without the need for you to visit the bank, and the newly created account is accessible at your next login upon approval. On the other hand, in case for HDFC, this becomes possible only on visiting the bank branch. ICICI Netbanking also offers online self-compounding accounts like Recurring Deposits and Money Multiplier Account that HDFC Netbanking doesn’t.
Insta-Alerts Customisation:Though both ICICI and HDFC Netbanking offers the facility of receiving message “Alerts” on your mobile to notify transactions, ICICI offers online customisation of the alerts upto the minutest details. For e.g, you can configure the threshold amounts above which you need an alert for, and also specify whether you need the alert by an SMS or email. You can as well toggle on/off the Insta-alerts for one or more services, say if you don’t want to receive the alerts for fund credits and need them only for debits. Cool, eh? Bravo ICICI 🙂
More Limitations: HDFC Netbanking is also lagging behind as it doesn’t allow:
whereas these are enabled by ICICI Netbanking.
Other way round: So, is there anything which is offered by HDFC Netbanking and not by ICICI Netbanking? 🙂 Believe me, I had to look hard to find this and, gladly, here are some unique services that HDFC offers but ICICI doesn’t:
The User Interface and Ease-to-use: The million dollar question! Who offers a better and more user friendly interface? Well, HDFC Netbanking has a slightly simpler and user-friendly interface as compared to ICICI. However, what use is it if HDFC doesn’t offer as many services as ICICI Netbanking does?
(HDFC Netbanking main screen preview. Click on image for full-size screenshot)
The ICICI Netbanking interface on the other hand, though quite appealing aesthetically, ends up overwhelming the user with its plethora of options. It requires some practice by a naïve user to master the usage of all the options available on ICICI Netbanking, whereas HDFC Netbanking, with its lesser options, is intuitive to use from Day 1.
(ICICI Netbanking main screen preview. Click on image for full-size screenshot)
Having said this, I would still prefer to use ICICI Netbanking anytime as it allows me to do any banking action that I can think of. And am sure that if HDFC starts offering everything that ICICI does, the HDFC Netbanking designers and developers will be seen asking for a big salary raise! 😉
Bill-Pay Charges: The Bill Pay facility is offered free of cost by ICICI Netbanking, whereas HDFC charges INR 25 per quarter for Bill Pay. (Yes, I know it’s a meager amount, but still why should you pay when another is providing the service for free?)
Security process: The ICICI debit cards now comes with a “Grid” feature for increased online transaction security. The Debit cards have a table of 16 numbers at the back, and the online user is asked to enter 3 random numbers from this grid before the funds transfer can complete.
Site Upgrade: Though HDFC Netbanking appears stagnant to me with minimal new offerings, ICICI Netbanking is constantly upgrading and is offering more and more to their customers every few months. It currently offers new services like smsNCash, Bank@Home and Receive Funds, and seems to work hard to retain and grow its customer base.
Rating: So, do I sound like someone who has been paid handsomely to promote ICICI Netbanking? 🙂 Believe me, that’s not the case and candid facts and user-experience are speaking for themselves. Taking these into consideration these, the woikr rating for these Netbankings is as follows:
That’s it folks! Please do share with woikr your views and tell us whether you agree or disagree. We value your feedback for future reviews.
And yes, before I close, I would like to say that the State Bank of India’s Netbanking SBI Online is another potential candidate for review and comparison. But more on this later. Currently, I don’t have an SBI login and password to use! Would you like to share yours with me? 🙂
[ Image courtesy: Me! ]
*** Footnote: All review comments are based on the personal opinion of the author as per his own user -experience with the compared products.***
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