Saturday 28 April 2012

RBI ask banks to allow customers intra-bank account portability

Bank customers who change jobs or locations will find it easier to shift their bank account to the new location now. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has made it mandatory for banks to allow transfer of accounts from one branch to another without insisting on opening a fresh account or making the customer undergo the full know your customer process again.

Earlier, since the account holder's information was maintained with local branches, banks used to insist that customers go through the account opening procedure all over again when they shifted to a different location.

"It has been brought to our notice that some banks are insisting on opening of fresh accounts by customers when customers approach them for transferring their accounts from one branch of the bank to another branch of the same bank. Such insistence on opening of fresh account or making the customer undergo full KYC process again causes inconvenience to them resulting in poor customer service," RBI said in a circular to all banks. The circular added that given that most bank branches are now on core banking solution, records of a particular customer can be accessed by any branch of the bank.

An official with a new generation private bank, however, said, "We provide 'at par' cheque books to our account holders, which means that the cheques will be treated as local cheques no matter which part of the country they are deposited in. So, it really does not matter if the home branch is in a different city."

With all banks having put in place a core banking solution ( CBS) through which all account holder information is maintained in a centralized database accessible across branches, ATMs and internet, the home branch concept has lost relevance. But some private banks charge high fees for services accessed outside the home branch. For instance, most new generation private banks charge a fee for cash withdrawal at branches other than the home branch. Also, some lenders insist that changes in account services or document submission has to be done at the home branch.

In its monetary policy on April 17, RBI had asked banks to have a central customer ID to facilitate portability of accounts and ensure that all customer information is centralized. Some banks are seeing this as a precursor to having a central identity which will help customers transfer accounts across banks without having to repeat the KYC procedure.

"Banks are advised that KYC once done by one branch of the bank should be valid for transfer of the account within the bank as long as full KYC has been done for the concerned account. In order to comply with KYC requirements of correct address of the person, fresh address proof may be obtained from him/her upon such transfer by the transferee branch," RBI said.
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