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What is Telephone Banking?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Telephone banking is a service feature offered by many banking institutions. The process involves using the keypad on a touch-tone telephone to perform a variety of banking functions. Along with traditional banks, phone banking is also utilized extensively by online banking institutions, including banks that conduct business primarily with the use of telephone technology.

The concept of telephone banking has been around for several decades. Initially, the process required manual intervention by a bank employee. Customers would call into the bank, answer questions to verify their identities, and submit queries to the service representative. While somewhat labor intensive, this approach did make it possible to conduct a number of banking transactions from the comfort of home.

With the advent of touch-tone services, the idea of telephone banking took on a new direction. Instead of connected with a live bank representative, customers could use the keypad on a touch-tone phone to enter an automated system and obtain information on bank accounts as of the latest posting day. One advantage of this newer approach is that bank customers could call any time of the day or night and check the status of their accounts. As technology continued to progress, the scope of functions that could be performed with the automated system expanded, making the service even more valuable to customers.

There are several ways that a telephone banking service may be configured. Some function off a validation process that includes voice recognition before access to the customer accounts is granted. Other systems make use of login credentials such as user names and passcodes that must be entered using the telephone keypad. Once the customers enters the correct data, the automated system makes it possible to perform a wide range of functions in relation to the accounts connected with the login credentials.

The typical bank telephone customer can access his or her accounts to perform a variety of functions. Balances can be checked and the latest activity can be reviewed. The customer can also transfer funds between accounts using telephone banking, as well as order more checks, make loan payments, or request information on other services the bank offers.

In addition to use by traditional banks, telephone banking is also utilized by virtual banks that rely heavily on telephone and Internet access to process transactions and provide information to customers. Telephone banks generally function primarily by establishing access credentials that can be used on any telephone with touch-tone service. In addition, the transactions or queries can be conducted around the clock, an advantage that allows the telephone bank to seek clients in any area of the world where the bank is authorized to conduct business.

While online banking access has become very popular today, most banking institutions continue to offer telephone banking services at no charge to their customers. The service remains popular with consumers who may not carry handheld devices that are Internet ready, or who are uncomfortable with using online banking for some reason.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By Briefingist — On Dec 09, 2013

I prefer when banks, such as mine, HDFC Bank, offer a combination of automated prompts and an actual person that can help you with problems. That way, if I forget my telephone banking pin for example, I can ask for an agent and they'll walk me through the authentication process.

By Celthyte — On Dec 08, 2013

Though I prefer on line banking, I agree it's nice to have telephone banking as an option at times when you can't get on the internet and need to pay a bill. I always make sure I have the telephone banking number of my major cards on hand for times when I'm on the go and forget to pay a bill.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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