Before Buying a Banking Software

Banking software is sort of a vague term, actually. This is because there are a variety of them available in the market. The only difference is who they are made for―that is―their targeted user base. Thus, it is evident that this will change all the dynamics of the software. There would, therefore, be 2 types of banking software, one for individual users, and the other for banks themselves to use. And of course, one must not forget online banking software, which is becoming increasingly popular. So, let us look at the various basic features which banking software must ideally have, depending upon the user type.

For Individuals

Banking software designed for individuals are designed primarily to keep a record of the banking transactions of that individual. It is more or less like a bank passbook, but it’s on the computer. And most of all, it can keep records for several different bank accounts at one time. This way, individuals can keep a track of their spending and bank balances, across different bank accounts. Some of these software are often able to provide the same facilities for different users in the same household. It therefore makes sense to buy a software which provides this feature, especially if your family is going to be keeping track of their records as well.

Also, different standard features include password protection, and budgeting and planning features. There might be software available with portfolio management as a combination. This feature can be useful if you also have a varied stocks and bonds portfolio which you would also like to track. Some software are often compatible with the online or e-banking interfaces of different banks. Therefore, all one has to do is log in to the bank account via the software and then synchronize the transactions to get the latest up-to-date bank balance and transaction history.

It is always best to buy a software which combines most of the features and facilities that you are looking for.

For Banks

In today’s world, every bank has to be computerized to record the huge quantum of transactions it handles. It has become quite an accepted feature of banks to have a banking software to keep a track of its various transactions. These software, however, need to have much more in the way of features and facilities compared to the one designed for individuals. This is because banks by themselves have different types of transactions that they conduct.

Thus, the software must incorporate certain banking automations, such as the calculation of interest on a periodic basis, and on the basis of the type of account which the account holder possesses. It must have facilities where records of each account holder are clubbed together for easy access and viewing. It must have the necessary features wherein different types of accounts are handled: for example, loan, credit card, deposit accounts, checking accounts, current accounts, savings accounts, etc., depending on what the bank is offering to its customers. It must also be able to handle the variety of products offered by the bank, such as insurance and mutual funds.

Of course, these facilities must be linked to the various networks of ATM machines, and with the online banking module of the software. And let us not forget linking between the various branches of the bank. Also, the software must interface properly with the central bank so as to maintain and regularize its transactions.

Often these software come integrated with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) module. All these features, and more, eventually translate to costs. There are a variety of ready-made banking software available in the market, which a bank can avail of. Apart from cost concerns, a bank should bear in mind the other typical concerns regarding buying software, such as cross platform integration, training facilities given by the company selling the software, and the kind of volume the software can handle.

Some banks often choose to develop their own software which is created to suit their needs. These products then need to be upgraded by the developers. There is always some kind of ongoing upgrade, maintenance, and development contract between the software developer/seller and the bank.

For Online Banking

Internet banking is a very common feature that different banks provide. As mentioned before, there are various software which can be integrated with the online banking interface provided by the bank. However, there are also virtual banks which exist only over the Internet. This kind of virtual banking requires specialized software which can handle online transactions and the different accounts and products provided to the account holders. Thus, it can be seen that even online, there are two different banking software types depending upon the end user needs.

As is the case with every industry sector, having a software that specifically caters to that sector’s needs has obviously filled in a very important void, which is the direct result of the growth and development of any economy.

The Danger of Banking Abroad

For US-based banks, capping ATM and teller withdrawals, as well as point-of-sale purchases, is standard practice regardless of where you are. But they take that practice to a whole new level as soon as you leave your home country.

When I’m in the States, I’m not actually sure what my daily withdrawal limit from an ATM is-though I’ve had to take out large chunks of cash once in a while, nearly wiping out my balance (to buy a car, for example). But I can tell you pretty definitively what my limit is when I’m not in the States, though. It’s USD 300 per day, and which is a fair bit of money.

But it’s not exactly all that much in certain circumstances. For instance, when my computer died the other day when I was in France, I went to a locally owned store instead of a massive electronics mart. In France, though, small businesses often take only a special kind of debit card: the Carte Bleue. If you haven’t got one, then cash is your only option. (They do this, by the way, to avoid being hit by the massive fees that credit card companies charge them per transaction, fees that allow those companies to offer you points and miles.)

So, off I went to the ATM, and then to the next, and the next. What was going on? Why couldn’t I take out my money? After taking out about 200 Euros (that is just shy of USD 300) from the first ATM, I wasn’t able to get anything more at that or any others. Imagine my frustration!

Now, if this were where the story ends, we’d really all have to agree that my unhappiness was pretty much my own fault. After all, everyone knows that banks put limits on ATM withdrawals. They have to, to protect themselves in the event that your card gets stolen and someone runs around taking out all the money (this wasn’t a credit card, mind you-just my normal ATM card). If they didn’t, since they’re responsible for that money, they’d go out of business in short order!

I called my bank and spoke for a while with a friendly representative who genuinely wanted to help but couldn’t. That is to say, she simply could not allow me access to more than 300 dollars of my money-not just from one ATM at a time, but from all ATM transactions combined throughout the course of a day. The fact that I was up against a deadline and in desperate need of a computer, at that point in the evening, I could only buy at a store that accepted cash? Well, it aroused her sympathy, but didn’t change anything. Eventually, I had the chance to speak with her supervisor. After a pleasant but frustrating discussion, in which I suggested that the bank’s policy of not changing this limit was absolutely ripe for a lawsuit, this representative softened a little.

Yes, she could raise my withdrawal limit-but only up to USD 500. It didn’t matter that it was my money and not credit. Nor did it matter that I had been on the phone for over half an hour (a fair portion of the time on my own dime, calling the US from a cell phone in France). And it didn’t matter that not being able to buy the computer that night would quite literally prevent me from practicing my livelihood, and could actually damage my earning power (because if you don’t accomplish certain freelance contracts on time, people stop wanting to hire you). The bank stuck to its policy, no matter what.

Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the various fees and limits, hidden or stated, when you are making financial transactions abroad. It is recommended that you visit your bank website and browse through the service charges and transaction limits before leaving the country.
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