Money & Banking

Non-essential branch visits by NRI customers, retirees pose health hazard to bank staff

V Sajeev Kumar | Updated on March 24, 2020 Published on March 24, 2020

Kochi, March 24

Non-resident Indian (NRI) clients are preferred customers for banks during boom periods. But the irresponsible behaviour of some of them during this period of pandemic, could likely get them branded as a nuisance, if not a potential health hazard.

Sources in the industry say that repeat visits by these clients, especially for non-financial banking activities, has created a prospective COVID-19 infection scare among bank employees. Often covering up their exact arrival dates, these customers have no qualms in freely mingling with bank employees. They visit NRI branches of banks in the pretext of forex-related queries often without completing the mandatory self-quarantine period of 14 days after coming from COVID-19 affected destinations.

A senior official in a leading PSU bank told BusinessLine that employees in his branch voiced concern when they found that an NRI customer had visited the branch after having landed in India just four days ago from a virus-affected country. The customer had not undergone the mandatory 14-day quarantine period in India. His visit was for exchange of dollars, a highly avoidable activity in the current environment. Currency notes are a major source of contamination and there is a need to curtail cash transactions to the barest possible level, the official said.

Since these NRIs are probably hiding their travel details, bank officials are even thinking of serving them through outsourced persons posted at the entry, after verifying their passports for their itinerary. A majority of these NRIs visit branches for non-essential business such as making enquiries on housing loans, mutual funds or printing of passbooks.

“Their irresponsible attitude has now made NRI customers the most avoidable ones from being the most sought after ones,” another official said, adding that there should be some restrictions on the entry of the public into bank branches. Customers should be advised to visit branches for emergency transactions only.

Bank employees also vent their ire against pensioners who visit branches for unnecessary matters at a time when the banks are stressed for manpower and time.

Many of the employees are of the view that they are a vulnerable lot and there is a need to take every precaution possible in order to prevent infection. They say that the concept of social distancing, de-cluttering, and decongestion cannot be over-emphasised in these times.

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Published on March 24, 2020
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