Bank of Baroda (BoB) has launched an investigation into the role of business correspondents (BCs) in the ‘BoB World’ mobile app fiasco. The probe will focus on how BCs obtained personal customer data, which was allegedly misused to add customers to the app without their consent.
Sources have informed that the bank is investigating the possibility of its managers colluding with BCs to meet targets. “Bank officials use BCs to achieve their ambitious targets. Some managers used their friendly relations with BCs to expand business.
Others also use their influential position to force them to onboard new customers to the mobile app,” a source said. The source added that BCs are under pressure to deliver because a negative report by a branch manager is enough to terminate their contract.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on October 10 barred BoB from onboarding new customers on its flagship ‘BoB World’ mobile application.
Typically, BCs do not have access to personal data of bank customers. Therefore, the data must have been shared by bank employees, sources said.
Following the RBI ban, BoB has suspended several employees and BCs after discovering that some employees fraudulently linked mobile numbers with customer accounts without their consent in order to increase the app’s user base.
“It was a win-win situation for bank employees and banking correspondents because it helped employees meet their monthly targets while banking correspondents received higher commissions for increased transactions,” another source told FE.
BCs also serve as bank representatives, providing financial services to customers in semi-urban and rural areas.
The involvement of BCs and their interaction with branch-level officers have increased over time, making them a crucial player in the government’s financial inclusion drive. They were initially given the responsibility to provide basic banking services such as deposit and withdrawal of money. However, their role has expanded, and they now provide a range of financial services, such as acting as agents for the recovery of principal or interest, opening Jan Dhan accounts, and selling insurance and pension plans.
BCs strive to increase their transactions because their commissions are directly linked to the number of transactions they can generate.