Why can't RBI force banks to share the sender's name?
“The Core Banking Solutions (CBS) of banks should be enabled to capture complete information from the relevant fields in the messages, data files which can be displayed to customers when they access their accounts online or provided to them additionally when they approach the branch counters, help desks, call centres,” says RBI with regard to electronic transactions. Yet, users of National Electronic Fund Transfers (NEFT) end up struggling, without recourse, to obtain information that would need to pass muster with the tax authorities.
An NEFT credit only provides the name of the sender and amount credited. Persistent follow-up with banks—even tech-savvy private banks—will only get you the city from which the money was transmitted. Banks plead helplessness and claim that their systems are not configured to capture this data. But basic know your customer (KYC) rules require account-holders to furnish their address and PAN number; it should be a simple matter for RBI to insist that such details should be included in NEFT forms. After all, tax officials don’t care whether NEFT transactions provide the information or not; the onus is on the taxpayer.
A number of businesses that accept online payments for sale of products, subscriptions, memberships as well as NGOs who accept online donations are left vulnerable to harassment because banks to not follow RBI’s directive that ‘appropriate details’ of NEFT credits should be made available to depositors.
Many who are affected by the inadequacy of information provided in NEFT remittances reacted sharply to a Moneylife report on the issue. PS Ramachandran, in charge of his cooperative society’s membership subscriptions made by NEFT, says, “One is hard-pressed to identify the amount to the correct subscriber/member (even when it is a fixed sum).” Anil Gidwani points out that “We in India do not understand the need to question deposits into our accounts, which is also used to create legal rights (as, for example, an illegal occupant depositing in a society's account).” Without information about the sender, the recipient is also in no position to refuse the deposit or transfer it back.
Moneylife Foundation has submitted yet another letter to RBI’s customer service department on 9th January asking it to direct banks to provide complete information on NEFT transactions.