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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Confusion as bank customers rush to update accounts

14th March 2012
  BoT to issue statement on exercise review today
Bank of Tanzania

Insufficient information given by banks on how customers should update their bank data has created serious inconveniences, and in some cases confusion in carrying out the exercise.

As a result some customers have been moving from one bank branch to another as others move from bank to home as they struggle to submit the required particulars needed by the bank to accomplish the exercise.

According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), all the banks were directed to update information of their customers as early as March last year.

However, a survey done by The Guardian has established that it was not until last month when many of the banks started the exercise.

Some banks, according to the survey, have not started to work out, and when asked, they said, would only call their customers in case they suspect they urgently need information from them.

CRDB Bank customers were yesterday forced to rush to the bank’s branches to update their information so as to beat the deadline set for (set for yesterday), according to the bank, but tomorrow, according to BoT.

But on reaching the bank some of them were returned on grounds that they did have the required information to update their accounts.

Long queues were witnessed inside and outside the bank’s branches as customers waited to update their accounts.

There was also confusion on the deadline of the exercise as others said they were not sure when the Bank of Tanzania issued the directive on the implementation of the exercise.

Mbezi Beach resident Abby Shishila complaining of the inconveniences encountered when updating information in his bank account said:

“The banks have not provided us with sufficient information regarding the requirements of the updating process.”

Most of the interviewed customers said they were confused on what documents they should carry with them to the bank for updating their account data, while others were queried the rationale of the exercise saying the banks already have enough information on their customers.

Another city resident, Victor Paul said banks need not rush in updating information of customers since the process require enough time.

“In have been here since morning but I am yet to update my account because many people came today so as to beat the deadline,” Paul who was queuing at CRDB Mlimani City branch, said.

Mariam Samson, who resides in Sinza, Dar es Salaam and with an account in NBC, called upon the banker of banks to devise a proper system of updating customers’ information without causing inconveniences to the customers.

“I only leant that my account was blocked after I went to the bank where I told them that I had difficulties in accessing it. In responding they told me that it had been blocked until when I surrender documents and information required to update it,” Samson.

She said the process did not proceed smoothly as even after submitting all the documents she was told to go to the commissioner for oath as one name in the ID did not match with that of the account.

Initially, in order to facilitate smooth compliance with the BoT directive, NBC gave February 10, 2012 to March 6, 2012 as the timeframe for carrying out of the exercise.

Asked to comment on the state of confusion that has prevailed in the carrying out of the exercise, the Bank Of Tanzania said it has heard the people’s complaints and that it will give a statement on what next today.

Bank of Tanzania’s Public Relations manager Zalia Mbeo said: We have heard bank customers’ complaints on how some have been scrambling to update information on their accounts. The bank is going to issue a statement tomorrow (today) on what should be done.”

In March last year, BoT which is the banker of banks, ordered all banks to update information of their customers’ accounts by mid March this year, she said.

However, financial analysts say that it does not appear that the banks immediately took the matter in letter and spirit.

That is why some started as late as early this year, while others only gave insufficient short notice not even capable of reaching their customers, they said.

“Not much was done last year though they had ample time to do so, it appears. It has always been customary for our institutions to wait until time has passed and then to start rushing in the last minutes. Most banks and customers have been only active in the past few weeks,” one of the analysts said.

Following the enactment, by the Government, of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2006 and regulations made there under, and issuance of a public notice by the Bank of Tanzania in September 2011, it is a statutory obligation for the banks to obtain and maintain records and detailed particulars of their customers.

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