M-PESA is notorious in this
Good news comes in many forms but nothing beats a morning text alert that the bank account has been credited. It’s the type of message that creates transformation of the mind body and soul. If that message arrives at 9AM when the mind is out of bed but the body still weak the two get in sync. A dreary face glows and suddenly you are greeted by three four five smiling faces. It’s true, give a smile and you’ll get seven back. Best still, the message makes your mind think of only one thing; how to get a withdrawal and get it fast.
That’s why I jumped out of bed this morning, covered my nakedness but it didn’t matter with what as long as it appeared relevant (HINT: I don’t sleep naked) and rushed to the nearby bank agent. I had to rush for two reasons; to confirm if indeed the message wasn’t a hoax (thank goodness it’s not April 1st) and secondly to confirm if indeed I wasn’t dreaming.
“Can I withdraw from bank”, I asked the already smiling attendant. “How much?” “15,000”. “You may”. Phone in hand, Open, USSD code, Withdraw, Agent Number, Amount, Confirm, Send. Within seconds she received the confirmation message then she asked, “ID?”
“Oh, sorry, I forgot, was in such a hurry”. “Sorry you have to produce an ID card”, she was no longer smiling. I explained how I was excited, how I jumped out of bed, how I didn’t think of an ID, but she could hear none of it. Then I asked, “what if I came with the ATM card, would you still need an ID?” “Yes.” “But ATM machines don’t need an ID?” “They are not human”. “Damn”, I murmured, went back home, took my ATM card, went to town, and withdrew from an ATM point without producing any ID.
I don’t blame her though. If I were to go to a bank branch carrying my ATM card, cell phone, and be able to prove to the teller that I indeed is the owner of the account by verifying my signature, the teller won’t still allow me to withdraw from the counter.
My question is, what are the odds that someone has my ATM card, has my cell phone number, and knows my cell phone lock PIN and mobile banking PIN and can reproduce my signature? If IDs are that critical for withdrawals, how come there are no ID scans at ATM withdrawal points?
Post Bank, the true paperless bank in Kenya, has replaced the need to sign any documents to allowing account holders input their PINs instead. However, when withdrawing over the counter, whether the amount to be withdrawn is equal to the amount allowable at the ATM points, they still require customers to produce identification documents; it doesn’t matter whether you have all other relevant documents to prove that you are you.
M-PESA is notorious in this. I have the phone; I have the PIN, they still need an ID. No, they don’t require one to produce an ID if the withdrawal is via one of the over 1000 ATM points they have been busy promoting in recent years.
What am I saying? Isn’t my experience supposed to mean that Banks and their ilk do not trust the personal identification credentials they have provide for mobile, Internet and ATM banking? Aren’t they saying that any transactions carried out without production of an ID document means such transactions are carried out at customers’ own peril? Whatever logic it is that they are using for refusing mobile or ATM PIN verification process for over the counter withdrawals, I find such logic irrational.