After many weeks of routine work since the start of 2014, I took the day off on February 5. No, I was not heading for a mid-week getaway from work, or to watch a Bollywood blockbuster. I was just getting ready to burn my time at two banks with which I have a savings account and a credit card respectively, to provide them with ‘KYC verification documents’, that most important thing all customers need to submit to their banks.

Scene 1: At home, preparing. “You need to bring along your recent passport photo as well as originals and photocopies of your ID and address proof documents, the latter two being distinct. Yes, you can bring your driving licence for ID proof, but for address proof, no, that won’t do. It needs to be a recent account statement from a bank, or something like that.” Heck, no. Where do I go now to get that? “Can I forward the computer generated e-statement I get on all my accounts?” “No, you can’t. You need to print that e-statement and sign it, please.” “What if I can’t get the printout?” “Well, then the KYC verification does not get done, that’s all.”

So I rushed to my computer, connected to the web, that fortunately was not down at that crucial time, downloaded my last e-statement, set up my printer and finished getting that important document for the bank in 15 minutes. Next, I rushed to the neighbouring photocopying centre and got a few copies of my driving licence. Phew!

Scene 2: On the road, driving to the banks. The branches are located on M.G. Road, Bangalore’s hot spot, but an 8-km journey from my home. Fortunately they are within metres of each other and both would be open up to 6 p.m., so there seemed to be ample time to complete the formalities. I set out on the least congested route, and found I had to park my car only on Brigade Road in a pay-and-park zone nearly 1 km away and walk from there.

Scene 3: In the hall of Bank 1 (credit card account). I spent some five minutes looking around the hall to see if a KYC counter existed: no luck. Then an executive approached me and asked what I was waiting for. “I need to submit my KYC documents.” She led me to her cubicle, took my credit card and spent some 5 minutes looking up on her computer the details. I was about to conclude this verification was quick after all, when she returned the card: “Sir, you may submit the KYC documents at any of the counters you see over there.” How much had been accomplished in 10 minutes.

Scene 4: Hanging around the counters. Nobody seems to look up; they are all busy with something or with other customers. After waiting for 20 minutes, I walked up to one counter and asked when she would be ready to attend to me. “Sir, please wait, I’ll call you soon.”

Another 20 minutes go by, and I could wait no longer. Got back to the executive I met first and requested her to intervene. She got to one of the counters and instructed the executive there to attend to me next. Another five minutes went by and the executive looked up at me. I was going to be attended to at last. In the meantime I managed to fill up the KYC form.

Scene 5: At the counter. I handed over my completed KYC form, the original and a photocopy of my driving licence and the e-statement printout. Some glossing over these, and then: “Sir, I need the original of this e-statement.” “But this is the original. It is a printout of the e-statement your customer service person insisted I need to submit.” “Oh, I see. Do you have your PAN card? I will take a photocopy and give it back.” I gave it to her. “Your name isn’t in the same sequence on the KYC and PAN?” “No, why should they be in the same sequence?” “I agree, they needn’t. Sir, I feel you better you give me your voter ID card as well.” “Voter ID card as well? Why?” “Just in case there is a problem.”

I gave it to her and began wondering if she wasn’t next going to suggest I provide my passport and Aadhar. Fortunately she felt she had gathered enough, left and returned some five minutes later with photocopies of all the documents including the KYC form with my photo, signed them with the bank seal, acknowledging receipt of all. Relief, at last!

Then my mobile phone’s alarm rang. What was it now? Heck, I had to rush back to Brigade Road. The parking fee was due again. What had I been doing for two hours?

Scene 6: In the hall of Bank 2. I had meanwhile extended my parking for a further two hours and managed to finish lunch at a hotel.

I discovered an exclusive KYC counter inside but a busy executive in there, processing documents of a couple of customers. I registered my name with him, collected a KYC form and filled it up as I waited for my turn. Some 30 minutes went by before he called out my name. And then... “You have a joint account with your wife? Well, then, she needs to submit these documents as well. As of now, we will record only your KYC submission in our system.”

Ok, no problem. I gave him my original driving licence and he made enlarged photocopies of them for clarity. I attested the copies. “Can I have an acknowledgement for submitting the KYC documents?”

“No, we don’t give any acknowledgement, but if you call up customer care, they will orally acknowledge your submission of the KYC documents!” What an acknowledgement, indeed! In the meantime I had been keeping an eye on my watch and it looked like my two hours were again going to get over. I thanked the executive and left, walking briskly back the 1 km to my car and managed to make it before the parking time was over, once again!

Scene 7: Back home and brooding over the day that went by. I had left home at 11 a.m. and was back at 5 p.m., after spending some Rs. 150 on fuel, Rs. 40 for parking, Rs. 80 on lunch, over two hours in the banks and walking around in the blazing sun for 4 km in all.

So much for a seemingly important process called KYC verification that really is a matter between the banks and the RBI, with no value to the customer, but nevertheless involves burning his/ her time, money and energy.

KYC perhaps is better known as Keep Your Cool or Know Your Capability!

( Dr. Vijay is a Professor at the M.S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, Bangalore. )

Customers need to spend an entire day to get the formalities done, for what is a matter between the banks and the RBI

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