A few days ago, Wednesday to be precise, at the insistence of a friend, I accepted to go open a new account at a local big bank. I have a number of accounts around that I don’t use anymore for obvious reasons, but this particular bank has a special eCommerce opportunity that the friend will help with. So go there I do, I get the forms, get told I’ll need $100 for the new account, and I proceed to fill in the forms with all my supporting documents in hand – passport photo, certified ID, Proof of residence.. the painful usual.
On submitting the form – after 30 minutes or so in the queue – I’m told I need a payslip or letter from my employer to verify that I earn something. I don’t have any such documents and want this account urgently so I tell them I’m not quite formally employed. See, it’s said about 80% or so in Zimbabwe don’t have a formal job – referred to as the unemployed to uncomplicate things – but they handle enough bits of money here and there to matter very much in this economy our banks trade in.
“You will have to fill in another form then” the customer desk agent suggests. If you have filled in 3 pages of bank account opening forms locally you probably understand how energy sapping the suggestion is. But being one to not give up easily, I complied, went through it, came back to the queue and waited again for my turn. Only to be told this time “we will only accept these papers, but we cannot guarantee you an account especially since you’re not formally employed.”
I’m shocked. Really shocked as I didn’t think it was this bad. So this time I decide to answer back “Ok, I’m holding a $100 bill in my hand, I have given you all my identification details, photo, proof of residence, my wife’s details, where she works & how much she earns, my brother’s details, where he works, and you still won’t give me an account?”
She responds: “Well, I’m not saying that you definitely won’t get one, just that you MAY not get it when they go over your application”. Ok, fine, maybe. “So when will I get a call?” I ask. “On Friday, and… we won’t call, you will have to come back here and check if your application’s approved” she says with a this-is-how-we-work straight face.
So there I was walking out of the bank one hour later, with no account, and only some hope that come Friday (today), and only if I make the trip to the bank, I may be lucky enough to be granted a bank account by these gods of money.
It’s not my first dissatisfactory experience at the hands of a bank, and it’s frustrating especially as most speak so loud about innovation. Frustrating that in this age of connectedness, I somehow still have to bear the cost of accessing the branch.
No, you’re not innovating you big bank! Innovation is this: Nigeria: GTBank Commences Instant Account Opening On Facebook. Maybe go there and ask how they are doing it!
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