Banks fine with utility bills to open accounts

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However, these documents are not officially recognised as proof of address

At a time when banks are being merged to achieve scale, a large section of customers is still facing difficulty in opening bank accounts, particularly those who have changed cities or location for jobs or other reasons.

Rules mandate that customers have to submit any of the six officially valid documents (OVD) as proof of their present address.

The six OVDs are voter ID, passport, driving licence, letter issued by the National Population Register, NREGA job cards and Aadhaar.

If none of the OVDs carries the present address, the address in the document has to be changed in 3 months and submitted to the branch.

NRIs face hardships

Not only Indian residents, even non-resident Indians are facing problems due to this rule — their passport will not have the present address, which is mandatory, and driving licences in many countries do not carry the residential address.

For residents, changing address in the OVDs is not an easy task, except for Aadhaar for which 41 documents are accepted for change of address. This includes electricity and telephone bills not older than three months.

Banks have requested the regulator to allow them to accept utility bills not older than three months for opening accounts.

For this to happen, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) needs to be amended.

However, despite several rounds of discussions with the government and the RBI, things have not changed and customers continue to face inconvenience, bankers said.

Bankers said one possible reason for this is that the government wanted Aadhaar to be submitted while opening bank accounts, although the Supreme Court has ruled that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for opening a bank account or for mobile connections.

PMLA amendment

Following the Supreme Court’s order, the government amended the PMLA in February making Aadhaar an OVD. Subsequently in May, the RBI amended the KYC master direction to make Aadhaar an OVD for opening accounts.

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