App fiasco: Bank of Baroda tells branches to retrieve consent forms | Mint

App fiasco: Bank of Baroda tells branches to retrieve consent forms

Following an Al Jazeera report in July, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in October barred BoB from onboarding fresh customers on the app, citing “material supervisory concerns”.
Following an Al Jazeera report in July, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in October barred BoB from onboarding fresh customers on the app, citing “material supervisory concerns”.

Summary

  • The bank has asked branches to produce customer consent and registration forms for signing up on the bob World app and changing mobile numbers.

Mumbai: Bank of Baroda (BoB) is trying to trace the paper trail behind a recent scandal where some employees allegedly created false app sign-ups using random mobile phone numbers, two officials at the state-owned lender said. The bank has asked branches to produce customer consent and registration forms for signing up on the bob World app and changing mobile numbers.

Branches have been told to upload the forms on an internal portal in the next few days, while regional offices have held virtual meetings with branches to highlight the urgency of the matter, the people cited above said on the condition of anonymity. Branches have also received a document on how to upload these forms on the portal. Each branch will be able to see a list of its bank accounts for which documents need to be furnished. Mint has seen a copy of the document.

Following an Al Jazeera report in July, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in October barred BoB from onboarding fresh customers on the app, citing “material supervisory concerns". A BoB spokesperson said the bank has since started a comprehensive and rigorous audit related to the mobile banking onboarding process. The latest exercise, officials said, aims to find accounts where mobile numbers were added or changed, or where bob World was downloaded without following proper procedure.

“The audit is being managed and supervised by an external agency," a BoB spokesperson said. “The very purpose of the audit is to identify gaps in terms of adequacy of documents or data errors where SOPs have not been followed in some branches. The bank has already carried out substantial corrective measures and we are committed to strengthening our onboarding processes further," the spokesperson added, terming the allegations speculative.

“The number of accounts where documents are required to be uploaded ranges from 200 in small branches to about 1,800 in larger branches for some regions," the first of the two bankers cited above said. The banker added that in many cases registration forms are unavailable at the branches. That is because on so-called login days, or days when employees focus on specific products, employees had to seek out customers and enable bob World without these forms.

“Bankers used to call branches they are attached to and get the customer’s bob World app activated without these forms. It was an operational lapse, but we had to do it given the circumstances and the push to bring more people on board," the banker added.

The fiasco also throws light on the importance of consent in financial transactions.

“In financial matters, the consent of the account holder is paramount, as the amount lodged or deposited with the bank belongs to the account-holder. Banks have no authority to deal with such assets of the account-holder when not consented to by the account-holder," said Mukesh Chand, a senior counsel at law firm Economic Laws Practice.

BoB’s internal portal has an option for employees to say that documents for a specific account are unavailable. Employees can use the “not available" option where mobile number seeding form or bob World registration form is unavailable; however, they have to mention the reasons behind that, the banker said.

“Although that option is available, our regional office has said it cannot be used and a document has to be uploaded. We fear this might lead to some employees again using unfair means like faking those consent forms just to avoid being pulled up for their failure to complete the task," said the first banker.

The second banker said that given the staff shortage and the limited time to upload forms, it seems like a tough task.

He said that if branches got more time, they could still have done it, but the short deadline has made it worse.

“After the first round of audits where some accounts were checked, the bank is now scanning more accounts, trying to look for suspicious ones. Uploading these in a hurry is a difficult task since we already have regular banking activities," the second banker said.

Also Read: The ugly underbelly of BoB’s app usage fiasco, our expose into how the Bank of Baroda cross many red lines to boost its app's banking numbers.

Catch all the Industry News, Banking News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
more

MINT SPECIALS

Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App