If your monthly income is $7,000 or fewer, then we have some good news for you.
It has now become easier for you to open a bank account in T&T.
On September 13, the Central Bank issued guidelines encouraging commercial banks to implement what it called simplified due diligence measures for basic banking accounts for the vulnerable people in society.
"It is important that the commercial banks' customer acceptance policy is not so restrictive that it results in a denial of access to basic banking services especially for people who are financially or socially disadvantaged," a circular signed by Michelle Francis-Pantor the deputy inspector-banks, non-banks and payment systems oversight issued to commercial banks stated.
Among the guidelines issued by the Central Bank were that it would only be necessary for people who earn a yearly income of $84,000 or fewer to have only one form of valid photo identification when opening an account.
And in some cases, even fewer than one form of photo id will be required.
"In exceptional cases where identity cannot be verified by government-issued identification, banks may obtain alternative forms of identification (for example a reference from a credible person). Such alternatives must be kept on file and the reason for the exception must be documented on file," the Central Bank stated.
The accounts opened with these relaxed requirements will be able allowed to access a debit card, online banking services and ACH (Automated Clearing House) services only.
International wire transfers, as well as access to credit or overdraft facilities are prohibited.
"Account opening/maintenance fees are not applicable to financial inclusion accounts. ATM and other fees attached to services (e.g. domestic transfers, purchase of bank drafts) will be applicable," the Central Bank's guidelines stated.
The Central Bank's guidelines also outlined changes to the proof of address requirements.
While banks will be required to "record" a customer’s complete residential address, "banks may delay verification of address until additional financial services are requested by the customer or transactional activity rise above the thresholds)," it stated.
Apart from individuals, the guidelines also take into account registered and non-registered businesses that earn $84,000 or fewer in annual income.
According to the Central Bank the guidance was issued in accordance with Section 10 (c) of the Financial Institutions Act 2008 and as an Addendum to Part I, Sections 6.2 and 6.3 of its Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism.
"The Central Bank expects that all commercial banks will consider these requirements and adopt the parameters as far as possible and in a reasonable timeframe," it stated.
And it seems the commercial banks have started answering the Central Bank's call.
In a tweet last week, Finance Minister lauded the changes being adopted by the commercial banks.
"I am very pleased to see the work that the MOF (Ministry of Finance) and CBTT (Central Bank of T&T) did to relax the KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements for previously unbanked persons is being implemented by local banks. Finally some ease for lower-income customers. We reduced the requirements for IDs and simplified the proof of address," Imbert stated.