It is also not just about getting the consent but also properly informing the customers that moratorium will mean loan tenure getting extended by three months, which will entail corresponding interest charges and accordingly getting their approval is the key challenge.
Bankers say the staff strength at call centres could be as thin as just 10–30 per cent of optimum capacities. Most banks say they will send out SMS and emails to their customers but how many will respond to their digital communications is a question mark. “Success of the moratorium will depend on how many of the customers react to our messages and email,” said another banker. Also, unlike in 2016 (during demonetisation), this time banks will have to digitally document the customers’ consent and store it.
As teams in the back-end operations mostly work from home, bankers say there could be some delay in completing the necessary paperwork for the moratorium. But here’s the larger debate. The RBI has given authority to banks to decide which customers should be given the dispensation for payment of instalments. Experts say this itself may result in differentiation between customers, particularly in the retail side. “If banks were to take a call on who should get the leeway and who should not, it could have different implications at a later date,” said a senior executive of a private bank heading the retail division.
To mitigate any differentiation in customers, it is anticipated that public sector banks could give a blanket moratorium to all customers, while those in the private space are still deliberating on how to implement the moratorium. SBI Chairman Rajinsh Kumar has clarified the moratorium will be automatically extended to all customers. Another managing director of a PSB says most of the state-run banks will follow SBI's decision. However, a similar clarification is awaited from most private banks. “We are still considering how to go about with implementing the moratorium,” said a retail banking head of a private bank.
Many public sector bank customers, despite a blanket extension, may not want a moratorium.