February 15, 2019

Equity Bank or BNR: Who Has Ordered Profiling of Clients? 

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Prospective clients entering any branch of Kenyan Equity Bank are being handed two pages of paper titled ‘Customer Updating Information Form’ which they have to fill up.

The existing clients are also being sent SMS to show up to provide more details about themselves. Some clients have received phone calls from bank staff.

Under the previous arrangement, clients gave basic information to open an account including national ID and personal address.

Some of what the new form requires includes the social security number, social economic category or Ubudehe and how much you earn if employed. The details being asked for are similar to those demanded by the Rwanda national ID issuing agency for you to get an ID.

Some clients are already expressing privacy fears at the unprecedented level of intrusion from the Kenyan bank.

“They called me on the phone, asking I answer the questions on the form. I found some of the questions too sensitive. I cannot give out such personal information,” said Gilles Uwimpaye.

“How does the number of people I live with and care for concern them?”

Another Equity Bank client sees no problem with the new details. “Yes, they are asking so much personal information but it is not even necessary to fill it. For some personal information I told them ‘I don’t know’…,” he said.

Equity Bank did not return our calls despite promising to do so. The head of marketing and customers experience Nirigira Athanasie said we call her back after one hour. She did not pick and had not called back by press time.

A branch manager at Equity told The Chronicles that the directive for new client details had come from the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR).

Part of the 2-page form Equity Bank clients are getting

But the National Bank of Rwanda which supervises the industry told The Chronicles that it has nothing to do with new details being sought by the Rwandan affiliate of Equity Bank.

The nature of information required by any bank from a client is the business of both parties not the central bank, BNR says.  

Edward Karamuzi, the director of banking supervision said, “Collecting information is a responsibility of the banks. They may need to know as much information as possible about their clients to help them develop new products. But they have to explain to their clients why they want that information.”

When The Chronicles read the Equity Bank new forms to representatives of GT Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and Bank of Kigali – they all said they were not implementing such a project.

They all said the information being sought goes quite too far.

Why is Equity Bank profiling Rwandan clients?

Part of the 2-page form Equity Bank clients are getting

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  1. Yeah it’s too much, recently I opened up account in Equity Bank, but that form is Scarry, I got confused why they ask ubudehe category? and why they ask number of people you take care of? I tried to ask them why they are asking a lot of information, they denied to say, so its better to do the follow and ask them for us.

    1. I discovered they don’t do that to their homebase Kenya so I opted to refuse and nolonger conduct business with them.

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