IT is by now a common knowledge even among the masses that biometric devices, especially the ordinary ones installed in banks, have trouble reading fingerprints of the elderly. But the banks, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and all other relevant authorities seem to be completely ignorant of the issue. Or, if they know, which most probably is the case, they just don’t bother. For them the hassle involved is nothing but a cost that the elderly have to pay for being old and alive.
The procedure that has been put in place is to apply for an exemption from the bank concerned, and that process alone takes 10-15 days during which the account cannot be operated even if the account-holders happen to be physically present, and are recognised and acknowledged by the bank staff.
My uncle, aged 85, recently had to face every bit of this hassle at his bank which refused to facilitate him till he gets his biometric exemption from the said bank’s head office. He needed to carry out an urgent transaction in an emergency situation against his own money. He was not asking for the moon. But all that the bank staff could do was to keep telling him that it was an impossibility.
The SBP and policymakers should revise the procedures by adopting friendly terms towards the elderly. The senior citizens have a whole lot of problems to take care of. Keeping them away from their own money hardly deserves to be called a policy.
Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022