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Why HDFC's mobile app outage caused bigger stir than branch closures

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05th December, 2018 14:53 IST
HDFC Bank’s mobile banking outage has caused a bigger stir than the usual closure of all bank branches on weekends.

A technical glitch had made HDFC Bank’s new mobile app non-functional for six days. Why was the HDFC Bank mobile app blackout such a major issue? The reason is the sheer volume of transactions that take place through this channel. HDFC Bank’s mobile app accounted for Rs 34,335 crore of transactions in August, which is almost twice the Rs 18,597 crore that its customers conducted through ATMs.

If non-financial aspects such as balance enquiry are included, more than two-thirds of all transactions today take place through the mobile app for HDFC Bank. According to a source in the bank, the mobile app has become the primary channel for many customers with all the functionalities of internet banking available within it.

Meanwhile, HDFC Bank finally restored its mobile services on Tuesday evening by providing its older app on Android Play and Apple’s App Store, thereby restoring the m-banking channel.

In terms of value, HDFC Bank accounts for 15% of all mobile banking transactions in the country. Also, HDFC Bank and other private lenders have been most successful in digitising their customers compared to PSU peers.

For instance, while State Bank of India records a higher volume of mobile banking transactions, the value of its m-banking transactions at Rs 30,411 crore is less than a third of the value of ATM transactions at Rs 1.10 lakh crore.

According to bankers, the security level in banking through mobile applications is also higher because there are several levels of authentication, including the device and mobile number.

“In India, many customers have leapfrogged to mobile banking without using internet banking. Even in internet banking — where customers log into the bank’s website — it is the mobile device that is being used,” said an executive with a private bank. Given that many customers do not visit the bank branch even once a month, savings account holders are more affected by a mobile banking downtime than a bank strike, he added.
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