(Not) Working Banking Systems

To quote murphy’s law,

“Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way”

This seems to be a policy matter for most Pakistani banks, hardwired into their service offerings and the way they design their information systems.

clipart_atm.jpgTake the most basic of automated banking services, the ATM Machine. The 24/7 banking enabler has become everything but that. Among numerous technical issues which seem to plague the poor machines on a daily basis, such as network connectivity and lack of currency notes to dispense, another more sinister problems lies underneath, which i believe is more a product of design (or lack of it) than anything else.

The problem is, reporting!

Didn’t think of that one did u. Reporting, or the general need for banks to have duplicates and triplicates of every piece of data in their systems both in hardcopy and softcopy has created a mess of the entire ATM system. Why you ask? Because for most banks, the time to run these reports are the time one usually needs money! When you are going to work in the morning (between 9 to 10) or when you are leaving your workplace in the evening (between 5 to 7) is the time many banks decide to ‘run batch reports’ during which their system is unavailable. Before the advent of the ATM machine, this process was very convenient, as banks used to close up shop at 1, and after that you couldn’t access their systems. But now, with 9 to 5 banking and 24/7 ATMs, this presents a big challenge to, none other than, the poor customers wishing to withdraw their own money from the system!

I urge people in the banking system to please have the decency to introduce background reporting, so that at least availability of their machines isn’t a question for the consumer.

13 Comments so far

  1. denny (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 10:31 pm

    How come this is not a problem in ATM’s elsewhere, i.e. the US, UK, India? They are always available there.

  2. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 3:12 am

    what a coincidence. I was thinking of asking someone to put up this as topic.

    Only last night at 3 AM a friend stopped his car outside an ATM – deposited approx 20K of local currency without even looking around and took his time to fill up the envelope with currency and penning down the account details of beneficiery.

    deposited came back to the car and we went away.

    later today – he received a HAWALA from Karachi, for some amount which WE both went to collect and i was ‘feeling envious’ that the shop was not even guarded – simple walk-in money exchange. with one security camera at enterance other behind the cash counter., and Gazallion of amount shuffling in machines…

    envious – yes beacuse all those who were present as WORK FORCE are Pakistani guys in late 20’s and mid 30’s with no fear of being robbed or gun point snatching….

    and we are cursing the ATMs and bank branch tellers who turn us down to give change for Rs. 5000 Bill.

    We need massive blood, – be it 9MM single bullet per 50 person 2 feet apart shot from 5 feet – or Gulootonised for being noncompliant to their respective assignments.



  3. Erum (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 4:27 am

    Jamal Shamsi, which country and what money exchange is this?

    Mansoor, you have raised a valid issue. Has anyone tried writing to the State Bank about this problem? They take complaints quite seriously and take appropriate actions. Use the below link for lodging a complaint and provide as many details as you can.


  4. fullstop (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 5:38 am

    Can anyone post pictures and update everyone about the status of work on II Chudrigar road. Thanks in advance.

  5. mansoor (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 10:45 am

    jamal bhai: i’d also like to know which country you are talking about?

    erum: that’s why i decided to raise the issue here, i will post it to SBP as well. thanks for the link.

  6. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 11:35 am

    it is the infant of region – UAE specific Dubai Mirdiff for deposit at ATM

    and nassar square in deira behind the notortious liyari resturant. Zirooni Money exchange worx for the HSBC Headoffice customers in Karachi –

    I always feel JALAAN when am here, and pray that curse spell on Pakistan be broken soon and we move ahead from AT LEAST This GCC region who have nothing natural but oil power to buy everything less what is natural.

  7. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 11:57 am

    Mahatir Mohammed (former Malaysian Prime Minister) is the key player behind the financial growth of UAE.

    The UAE OWE their prosperity to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Dr. Mahboob Ul Haq & Now to Mahatir Mohammed.

    May be some do not know.

    Emirates was established by 2 former PIA pilots in October 1985 idea was floated by PIA ex-chairman Air Marshall Noor Khan immediately matured by late Sheikj Zaiyed targetting; Dubai – Delhi, Dubai – Karachi, Dubai – Bombay. Both aircrafts were on WET lease from PIA, operating only in daylight hours for arrival at Dubai as its airport at that time was not cleared by ICAOO for night operations.

    NOW – :) Emirates is 1st airline of region to receive A 380 in 2009, and over 100 passanger aircrafts operational with projection of 200 plus passanger planes before 2010.

    At a meeting of GORAS i came to know and trying to find out from USA – Sheikh Mohammed Ruler & PM of UAE is ‘ MOST WANTED ‘ person in USA for human rights violation and would be apprehended if he ever land or come into any of US territories.


  8. Erum (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

    Mansoor, you’re welcome. It is very important to report issues to the bank in a proper way (written complaint with details) and if not responded and no action taken by the bank, ONLY THEN you should write to the SBP (with all related detials of complaint lodged with the relevant bank). Not all complaints should be sent to the central bank otherwise they will be bombarded with complaints with limited capacity to manage them.
    Jamal Shamsi, I rightly predicted you were talking about UAE. Is it Al-Zarooni money exchange you mentioned? If yes, it is a licensed money exchange which can carry out cross border remittances as per the license issued by UAE’s central bank. It’s like western union or moneygram or khanani & kalia in Pakistan which have agents in most of the countries and they are regulated. HSBC would not deal with a Hawala operator given the extent of laws it has to comply with, being an international institution. Hawala is something entirely different, i will not go into the details here. I know there are a number of hawala dealers operating all over the world but the one you mentioned is not one of them. Regarding Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid being on the USA’s most wanted list, what is the source of this information? I know he has a lawsuit against him for the use of jockeys in UAE for camel racing (human trafficking). But I don’t think he is on any most wanted lists.

    Apologies for going out of topic – I felt this was something important to be addressed.

  9. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 6:44 pm


    HAWALA – Defination

    You want US$ 100,000 for Mr. X in DXB – You pay PKR. 6180000.00 ( or whatever interbanking rate + 15 ~ 25 paisa premium.) – The money changer take from you money and Mr. X contact number. Issue you a TOKEN Number informing you where and when to collect money with a name n a cell number for HIS contact Mr. Z in DXB.

    in next 15 minutes tops – you can ask Mr. X to call and collect from Mr. Z cell number so & so.

    Mr. Z will land in any money changer shop and pick up money and walk out.


    With DSL connection and FREE Google Talk it is MORE SIMPLE AND CUTE,

    May be we can talk about HAWALA & modus operandi of such business on seperate TOPIC altogether.,

    BANKER ( i know u are reading it )- You may take the lead from here – :D and I will ADD-IN
    – end –

  10. Erum (unregistered) on November 2nd, 2007 @ 7:27 pm

    Jamal Shamsi, thanks for the definition :) But you did not mention how hawala is different from wastern union or moneygram in which funds are also available within minutes and they charge a premium/fees too. Infact with western union etc. you can send money over the phone and it can be picked up within minutes :) You forgot to mention a very significant distinction between the two. Anyway, i will not go into the details here. You did not answer my questions raised on your comments about Al Zaroori exchange and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid? Have a good weekend.

  11. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on November 3rd, 2007 @ 1:21 am

    for Shaikh mohammed am waiting from FIRM answers., however a case of 1994 Labor Law proceeding from ILO in UAE is pending decision in SWISS courts, check ILO web. It is available in Khaleej times archieves of August 1994 till October 1994., and all went quiet since then.

    Alzarooni – what was your question? – if you wish ask Moderators my email and send question.

    – when state law is by passed and money changes hand in distant places without LEGAL banking system filtering the STATE Treasury.

    That is Hawala – and in more refined RANT – Money Laundering.

    Western Union / Money Gram / Zarco report each inward OVERSEAS transaction to STATE BANK and before you collect money you have to submit a CNIC COPY and fill a form – Penning down PURPOSE REMIITANCE.

    They DO NOT SEND amount over US$1000 ‘OUTSIDE PAKISTAN’ – without support of valid legal document for purpose of transfer – TEST it.

    I MAY BE WRONG ALTOGETHER and all this rant is out of my imagination… !

    — PERIOD — its way outta topic now.

  12. Confused (unregistered) on November 3rd, 2007 @ 11:06 am

    Wait, so if Im visiting Karachi from the US and want to deposit some cash in one of the Karachi banks, maybe UBL, and get an ATM card to actually avoid carrying cash in fear of being robbed, you’re telling me that I may not have access to my own money at an ATM machine due to some technical problem? And this is an everyday occurence?! Is this a specific bank issue, or is this issue shared with ALL banks within Karachi regardless of which location I use?

  13. Confused (unregistered) on November 3rd, 2007 @ 11:09 am

    Wait, so if Im visiting Karachi from the US and want to deposit some cash in one of the Karachi banks, maybe UBL, and get an ATM card to actually avoid carrying cash in fear of being robbed, you’re telling me that I may not have access to my own money at an ATM machine due to some technical problem? And this is an everyday occurence?! Is this a specific bank issue, or is this issue shared with ALL banks within Karachi regardless of which location I use?

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