The banking sector in Tunisia has been slowly opening up over the past few years, with a number of international banks acquiring local ones, new foreign banks opening up, privatization of govenrment-owned banks and more.
I think this is great, and I hope it will move the whole banking industry forward, revitalize it and make it more client friendly.
I truly think the most important thing the banks in Tunisia need is a change of mentality. They currently treat the client as if he needs them more than they need him, which is not true. Without the client, the bank has no reason to exist and will shut down, so they have to do their best to satisfy the client.
Every added service a bank provides for its customers is an added value that will make them more satisfied and less likely to take their money some place else.
And these services shouldn’t be created to use the client even more and suck more money out of him, but to make his life easier and win his loyalty.
And most of these services should be free.
Now, in the bank I’m dealing with, and which I’m totally unsatisfied and pissed off with, for example I can’t believe I have to pay a yearly fee for my debit card, that’s totally supposed to be free, especially that it’s such a crappy service in the first place with the network screwing up regularly.
In another bank, you’re charged a fee for every single transaction, even when you physically go to the bank, stand in a queue and fill out a check manually to withdraw some of your own money.
And the list of examples goes on.
It’s unbelievable and unacceptable.
Another thing I find unbelievable is how in this age of technology and information, I can’t walk in to any branch of my bank and withdraw money or do any other transactions. I’m only limited to the branch I opened my account in, unless I’m willing to wait while phones and faxes go back and forth between the two branches for a possibility that I might get to do what I want to do.
What were networks created for then?
What were databases created for?
What were these banks computerized for?
As for flexibility, only a few banks give you the possibility to do more than withdraw cash from an ATM machine. I don’t understand why. An ATM machine could take a lot of load off the bank branches by providing basic stuff like account statements, checkbook orders and even cash deposits.
Most Tunisian banks either have or are working on e-banking solutions now. These solutions come at different levels, with some just providing account statements, and others providing a bit more like checkbook orders and certain simple transactions.
I think this is something all banks should invest further in to provide as much as possible online and enable as many transactions. When it comes to the online service, it doesn’t all have to be free. The basic stuff can be free, and fees can be required for more complicated features.
The only things I find Tunisian banks focusing on are credits. They have home credits, car credits, study credits, travel credits, business credits, small credits and the long list goes on.
I guess it’s because these are the products that suck the most money out of people and are most profitable for the banks.
These of course are my personal ideas from a regular consumer’s point of view, based on my experiences and those of my friends, which I only intend as constructive criticism for Tunisian banks.