(Photo: Mint)
(Photo: Mint)

Opinion | Rich… who, me?

The government is mulling a mechanism that would ensure your consent before any money is credited to your account

Imagine waking up one day to find that your bank account has been credited with a large sum of money. A stroke of luck, or should you worry? Who transferred the money? And what if it is illicit? All this could soon change, as the government is mulling a mechanism that would ensure your consent before any money is credited to your account. For electronic fund transfers, this is especially relevant, since these can be done by a simple swipe of a phone.

According to a media report, the finance ministry has sought the views of the Reserve Bank of India on getting banks to institute systems that would ask account holders for permission before they receive a transfer. As of now, it is expected to be an opt-in service, available to those who would like to be asked. The idea has emerged in response to cases of people finding dubious funds lying in their Jan Dhan accounts in the days that followed demonetization in 2016, when panicky individuals afraid of being caught with black money were trying to conceal their ill-gotten stash from the authorities.

A consent device would make it difficult for your account to be misused by others for illegal purposes. The fear of falling afoul of the law could nudge bank customers to adopt the mechanism, even if it involves paying a small fee. The trouble is that an approval button could also go against you in case tainted money ends up in your account anyway. Online hackers don’t just clean up accounts, after all, they also stuff them at times; and once consent is enabled, it would be that much harder to claim ignorance of a mystery transfer in a court of law. Like many new ideas, this one could cut both ways.

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