Today, we’re going to test how easy it is to open a bank account in India and explain this process step by step
Financial inclusion has been a pain point for the Indian government for many years. Weak infrastructure in rural areas is the main factor determining the lack of access to formal banking services. The absence of financial literacy among the local population is another crucial downside.
Therefore, the government is trying to facilitate banking operations as much as possible. Numerous fintech startups are helping to increase inclusion as well. It seems their efforts are paying off since over 94% of both big and small Indian villages now have access to the formal banking system.
1. Choose a bank
The latest Forbes World’s Best Banks list rates CSB, ICICI, HDFC, Kotak Mahindra, Axis, and State Bank of India among the top financial institutions in the country. You should also consider the number of foreign and domestic branches, availability in the region you live and work, ATM network, banking app, customer support, etc. Some of the features were described in our previous article “10 best and largest banks in India”. As for the neobanks, InstantPay, Niyo, Open, and RazorpayX are industry leaders according to IBSintelligence.
2. Prepare documents
No matter which bank you choose, you will need certain documents to prove your identity and residence. Most banks will also require a couple of recent color photos of standard passport size. Your chosen financial institution will list the documents you must submit at the dedicated website under the KCY section.
The most common requirements are:
- Aadhaar Card – a verifiable 12-digit identification number issued by UIDAI to the residents of India
- Driving License
- Voter’s Identity Card – a photo identity card issued by the Election Commission of India to all Indian citizens eligible to vote
- NREGA Job card – the document which identifies an individual who is registered with the local Gram Panchayat under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme
- Passport (mandatory for Non-Resident Indian (NRI) customers or a Person of Indian Origin (PIO)).
- Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card
- Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) self-declaration for NRI
- PAN (permanent account number) issued in the form of a laminated “PAN card” by the Indian Income Tax Department to all the citizens of India who are earning income and carrying out any kind of financial transactions
- Form 60 for individuals who do not have a PAN card
3. Fill an application form
Both bricks-and-mortar branches and online banking portals provide account application forms for the residents and citizens of India. Usually, there are a few separate forms to fill (such as the KYC profile form and an account application itself). The required details are common for most banks across the globe: the type of account you wish to open and preferred value-added services, your personal details (name, address, citizenship, DOB, marital status, ID number, etc), contact details, address, information about your income and occupation, and other additional info.
4. Submit an application form and required documents
The next step depends on the chosen bank and the type of bank account you need. Most frequently, the whole application process can be completed online. However, some banks do require their customers to submit all the documents in person at the physical banking location. For instance, at the State Bank of India (SBI) a branch visit is mandatory to open both savings and current accounts. If an online procedure is allowed, you’ll need to upload the required documents to the bank’s web portal and wait for approval. Depending on the account type and your individual case, this may be immediate. It can also take a few hours or even days if any details need additional verification.
5. Get your account details and bank cards
Upon approval, the bank issues you a bank account number and a customer ID to enable online banking. You will also receive physical representations of your bank account (debit or credit card, checkbook, etc). Virtual debit cards can be generated by the customers on their mobile banking apps (where applicable).