The KYC experience at Citibank and SBI

It all started when I received an email from Citibank with the following subject "Action Required: Update your Know Your Customer (KYC) documents on your Citibank Account No.xxyy"

The email asked me to visit the branch with a passport photo and a proof of identity and address.  The email also mentioned the list of acceptable documents for proof.  Among those which served both purpose were passport/voter id/aadhaar/drivers license.

Of late (after my BSNL disconnection), I use aadhaar for my address proof.  It also saves me the trouble of having multiple proofs for id and address.  (The address in my passport and drivers' license is not current and as for voter id, it is kind of incomplete)

Armed with the original aadhaar and a photocopy (and along with a passport photo), I boarded the empty Metro on a week day and alighted at Trinity on M.G. Road, from where Citibank is walkable.

The lady who was kind-of the Receptionist asked me to fill a form.  She asked me if I had the original id and address proof. I showed her my aadhaar card.

"What about the address proof?" she asked.
"The aadhaar is both id and address proof" I said.
"We do not accept aadhaar as address proof", said she and showed me the back of the form.   Indeed, the form did not have aadhaar in the list of accepted address proofs though it showed up as a valid id proof .
"Well!  the email I got had it. I can show it to you", said I.  I brought up the email on my smartphone (the rare occasion when that came handy) and showed her.
"I need to talk to my colleague", she said, reluctantly.

Having filled the form and given the original, I subsequently met her "colleague".  I told him that he should fix the "form" or educate the lady so that she is aware of the documents that served as the address proof.  (I doubt if anything has come of that).  I also added that at least aadhaar is at best two years old, but an address proof like the passport could be almost 10 years old, driving license could be almost 20 years old,  and a voter-id could be even older.  If the objective is to verify if one is staying in the specified address, then none of these might suffice - perhaps a phone or gas bill is the better option.

He nodded and then said "Can you give me your PAN card?"
"Why?" asked I.
"Aadhaar does not have your date of birth - it just mentions the year of birth", said he.

Indeed, the aadhaar card that I have only mentions the year of my birth. (My wife's shows the date of birth though).  I would call this one of the biggest goof-ups from aadhaar - why should they not put the date of birth, when available?   Perhaps they should be regenerating the cards and resending, especially if they print the date of birth in the new ones.  Indian Railways will not be able to take aadhaar as age proof for Senior Citizens.  (I could be born on 31st Dec 1953 and start getting Senior Citizen benefit from Jan 1, 2013 since aadhaar card would just say 1953).

Now, my colleague asked me (after I came back from the Bank), why should the date of birth matter to the Bank, except in "borderline case" to know if I am a minor or not.   Shouldn't the year not suffice?  Fair enough!

As it turned out, I had the PAN and that was ok.  But that was not the end of the matter.

"Hey, your address as per aadhaar card is different from that in our records", said the Bank guy.
"Really?  It is the same", said I.
"The aadhaar card does not say - 2nd stage. Your address in our records has it", said he.
"Ok, then please take a change of address and fix it to match the aadhaar card", said I.
"Sorry, Sir, I can't.  You need to update it online yourself", said he.

What do you know!

I did not ask him what would happen if I did not have (or use) an online account.  Also, he said I would not need to produce any further documents/proofs after making the address change online.  So I left it there.

One thing that comes out is the utter lack of common sense, especially among customer-facing staff.  It is conveniently hidden behind processes and procedures.  This is illustrated in another incident, this time at SBI where I have had other adventures.

Despite producing multiple copies of address proofs as part of account change to the Branch near my home, my account in the Bank still listed my Cochin address from 16 years back.  So I went one day with yet another copy of my aadhaar (as well as the original).  I filled the required form and gave it to the staff on duty.  I have seen her mutliple times. She has access to my account details and knows enough about me.  But this was her instant response.

"The proof needs to be verified and certified by the Bank Manager.  She is on leave. You need to come another day".

Luckily, there was another (senior) staff, with whom I had interacted multiple times and who knew me.

"I can attest it", said she, overruling the protest of the first staff.

"Madam, please see the original", said the first staff as this senior staff attested without bothering about my original.

Why on earth would I bother to alter the xerox of an attested address proof in an account that I have in this Bank for more than 15 years?   This common sense did not occur to the first staff as all that was ingrained in her system was - "Bank Manager should certify the original".  That the customer would be inconvenienced if he had to visit another time is not something which concerned her, the least.


  1. My 1st salary (sep2002) till now jan14, is with Citibank Blore... I shudder to think what they would dish out to me. I am starting to fill out that KYC and see how it goes.

  2. Has Citibank made it compulsory to go personally and submit KYC documents lately? Why can't they mail a mailing address or mail id where we can send the documents?

  3. They do need to see the originals of your Id and address proof. I think RBI has mandated it.

  4. Went today. It was such a long queue. More than 50 people in the queue at 1 PM. By the time I finished it was 2:50 and around 10 were still waiting. Though the closing time was 2 PM on a Saturday they were ready to handle the entire queue that was there.

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