Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Passport not good enough for banks

Published:Saturday | February 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaive R. Facey

What is the most valid form of identification in Jamaica and why should a potential customer presenting the Jamaican passport, TRN, proof of income and address with two character references still be unable to open an account with some financial institutions?

This policy of some financial institutions requiring two photo identifications and a pile of documents to transact certain businesses is a clear reflection of the deep-rooted mistrust that exists in our society and will continue to dampen the entrepreneurial spirit and stifle the growth of businesses.

In September 2014, I decided to open an additional account at one of our leading commercial banks and presented my driver's licence and TRN. I was informed that a second photo ID was necessary. This was against the backdrop that I had been a customer with the bank for nearly 30 years, had an active account and credit card, and had been doing regular transactions without any irregularities. My ABM card eventually sufficed as the additional safeguard.

Investigations then revealed that another commercial bank and two other financial institutions had a similar protocol. Checks at the end of January revealed that two institutions rescinded this policy, but at least one major financial institution remains rigid that a passport alone will not suffice as proof of identification in order to open an account!

I do understand it is the prerogative of commercial banks and financial institutions to formulate and implement policies that they believe will safeguard their operations. Yes, from the dawn of creation, deception has always existed in human interactions. It is, therefore, not unique to Jamaicans. Is it that our banks regard all of us as con artists and ginnals?

The Jamaican passport is issued only after an applicant has undergone a series of verifications of identity. When we travel overseas, this document, which is of paramount importance, is used SOLELY as the means of identification at immigration to enter other jurisdictions. What poses greater risks when our passport is regarded as a valid form of identification, its acceptance in our banks or when used to enter foreign jurisdictions?

What would be the consequences and our reactions if the United States, Canada, England and our neighbours like Barbados and Trinidad follow the hint of some banks and treat the Jamaican passport with similar regard at their ports of entry?

DAIVE R. FACEYDR.Facey@gmail.com