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‘Biometric of old banking accounts becoming mandatory’

State Bank of Pakistan
State Bank of Pakistan

KARACHI: In-order to curb fake banking accounts in the country, State Bank of Pakistan is going to make biometric verification of all old bank accounts mandatory and a circular in this regard will be issued today.

Biometric verification of banking accounts had started in 2016 and all new accounts are verified through biometric process since then. “Around seven million accounts opened after 2016 are verified through the biometric system out of existing 50 million accounts in the country,” said one official of the central bank on the condition of anonymity.

This step is being taken by the central bank after reporting on fake accounts. Few weeks back, one scandal on accounts of a ‘faluda wala’ was unearthed. More than two billion rupees were found in his accounts without his knowledge while his name and identity number was used.

Experts in the banking field say that biometric machines are not responsive most of the times after thumb impressions of any person are taken. Even National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) is facing similar issues with the biometric machines.

People in the banking sector said that issues related to fake accounts were on the similar grounds, as the issues had related with getting multiple national identity cards. “Previously, one person could get the fake identity card. Thus, they opened the bank accounts in similar way,” said one official. “Gradually, improvement is coming in the banking sector.”

Analysts say that initiating biometric system of old banking accounts, which amount to over 43 million would be a big step of the regulator to end up the fake accounts. “Criminal cases will be registered against people who remained involved in fake cases,” the official said.

Despite of digitization in the country, it remains difficult for a citizen to verify banking accounts opened against his name. “Banks have their own databases and there is no central data base, so people can not check bank accounts under their name through one SMS, like they verify mobile SIMs issued against their national identity card number,” said one banker.

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