KYC and KYB

Your bank needs to let you get to know it better

KYC stands for Know Your Customer, and banks are now obliged by law to get to know us, the depositors. Chances are that, like me and millions of others, you’ve received a notification from your bank requiring you to furnish all manner of personal information so that your bank can reliably identify you as you and no one else, like Dawood Ibrahim in benami disguise or the secret head of IS in India.

How do you identify yourself as yourself ? How do you get your bank to know its customers which in your case is you?

I had to download a form which i had to fill in by giving my name, phone number (numbers), address (residential and/or official), email id, self-attested recent photograph, ditto photocopies of both Aadhaar card and PAN card. I looked carefully to see if there was a postscript in fine print which wanted me to also provide my LTI (Left Thumb Impression), genetic verification based on DNA analysis, and complete janam patri, specifying position of Saturn vis-à-vis Uranus. But it seemed they’d overlooked that.

Then I had to lug all this to the nearest branch of my bank, submit it, and get a receipt. And prepare myself for a similar exercise next year. Because for your bank to get to know you just once is not enough, it’s got to get to know you every year. Just in case overnight you’ve developed a split personalityor undergone a gender change.

Banks have to do all this to assure themselves that you’re not an undesirable element, like a money launderer or other subversive. But how about you, the customer, getting to know the bona fides of your bank? After all, you are putting your hard-earned money into your bank, not the other way round. So shouldn’t your bank be obliged to prove its trustworthiness to you? Particularly at a time when more and more banks have been shown to be overloaded with NPAs (Non-performing Assets), banking jargon for bad loans? What if all these bad loans make your bank go bust? Don’t worry, if the bank goes bust the government will bail it out. With whose money? The taxpayer’s, which is you.

So maybe KYC should have a corresponding KYB: Know Your Bank. Or should that be Know Your Bunkum?