Eastern Bank (EBL) yesterday rolled out the electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC) system to allow account-opening without filling in any documents, in a bid to help clients maintain the maximum level of social-distancing during the ongoing pandemic.
Thus, the bank became the first lender in Bangladesh to have introduced such service under the central bank's e-KYC guideline issued on January 9.
"This beautiful system is really a milestone for the banking sector as a customer only needs 2 minutes and a single visit to a branch to open an account," Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director and chief executive officer of EBL, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Previously, it would take 2-3 days.
On the first day, customers opened 25-30 EBL Insta Accounts.
Instead of filling up a form consisting of several pages, a customer now needs to provide a signature by paying a quick visit to an EBL branch to open an account. They will have to bring their national identification card, photo of the nominee and a copy of utility bill as proof of the address.
Once the willing customers are at the bank, a photo of him/her will be taken immediately and information will be uploaded on the bank's "Insta banking app". The customer will have to give a signature on a printed page.
The new service would reduce the health risk for customers and the bank's employees at a time when social-distancing is a priority, said Ziaul Karim, head of communication and external affairs of EBL, which is using the face-matching technology for identifying customers' authenticity with the NID card.
The option of visiting a branch is a temporary requirement for a customer who wants to open the account.
"Within a few months, such accounts can be opened from the home of the customers," Karim added.
Currently, the service can be availed by new customers only. For now, monthly transaction (withdrawal/deposit) will be limited to Tk 1 lakh.
EBL Insta Account comes in both current and savings variant and is available at all EBL branches. A debit card as well as free cheque book will be couriered to the account holder.
The central bank issued the e-KYC guideline on account opening on January 9.
Although the digitalisation enables easy access to financial service from remote locations, it may pose some underlying risks of money laundering and terrorism financing.
So, the central bank and the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) worked for a long time with many government agencies and institutions to introduce the guideline, said an executive director of the central bank.
A nationwide pilot programme for e-KYC was completed with 18 banks and one mobile financial service provider.
The data provided by the institutions showed that the e-KYC can save time.
The BFIU expects every financial institution to implement the guideline by December to enhance service capacity in order to reduce cost and time and achieve steady business growth.