New Banking Rules Effectively Sever Online Banking for Foreigners in Romania

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Photo: Banking Verification Failure

Update: Banca Transilvania has updated their video identification service to accept passports. However, residency permits / cards, are still not recognised by the system. The process of validation with passport may take longer and in some cases, may fail.

Changes that have recently been introduced into Banca Transilvania's Online Banking services in Romania, now require all users who download and install Mobile Banking applications to submit a copy of their identity card into an automated verification system.

In addition, users are required to take a selfie and record a video for voice verification during the process, which lasts for around 3-4 minutes.

However, the problem arises from the fact that the verification system is only programmed to recognise the Romanian ID card (buletin). Even ID cards, such as residency permits (permis de sedere) are not recognised by the verification process and the users are then locked-out of their mobile banking app.

At this time, we've only received reports Banca Transilvania's BT Pay app forcing the verification process, and it only appears to be for users who have not already signed into the application.

BT Pay Update Prompt
BT Pay Update Prompt

Users are also being prompted to update their application, which may also trigger the verification process.

Banca Transilvania is one of Romania's most popular banking service providers and especially popular in Cluj-Napoca and the surrounding counties. As such, this verification requirement will significantly impact 1000's of their users.

The Verification Process

Once all of the steps have been completed, the application will try to verify the identity using it's automated verification system, which in our tests, took around 4 minutes to complete.

However, the identity failed to verify and the users are then instructed to reinstall the application and to start-over, which leaves them locked out of their BT Pay application entirely, with no ability to check and approve transactions from their mobile devices.

As the BT Pay application is central to online transactions, including those made on websites for purchasing products and paying for bills and services, this effectively stops all foreigners who do not have the Romanian ID card (buletin) from using online banking services.

These Rules Will Be Applied by All Romanian Banks

According to multiple sources, including management from a Banca Transilvania branch, these rules are expected to be enforced for all users of Online Banking services across Romania, even those with other banks. However, we contacted Raiffeisen Bank for confirmation, but their representatives were not informed of any changes.

For Romanian citizens, who have Romanian ID Cards, the verification process works, so this issue is only for those with non-Romanian ID Cards.

As most foreign visitors in Romania do not have Romania-issued ID cards, but instead were issued with the “Certificate de Inregistrare” paper certificate, with no photo-identification, it is not clear how anyone will be able to use this automated identification service.

A representative of Banca Transilvania has informed Cluj XYZ that they will investigate this situation and provide further information on how foreign citizens will be able to continue using Online Banking services in Romania.

It is also not clear, whether other banking service providers, such as Revolut, which are not headquartered in Romania, will be subjected to such requirements. However, Revolut and similar services, already have a functional verification system, which is opened to multiple forms of international identification proofs.

Unfortunately, situations where the government and other official bodies, build or enforce systems which are only geared towards Romanian Citizens is a very common issue in Romania. The Romanian ID Card is required for almost all services across the country, and service providers typically have to adapt their systems to “accept” other forms of identification, even official documents actually issued by the Romanian immigration services are typically met with confusion or not accepted in their systems, as the systems are typically build specifically for Romanian Citizens' ID cards.

When Cluj XYZ receives updates, we will publish them. In the meantime, it seems that for now, the only way that users of the BT Pay application can avoid being locked out is to avoid updating or reinstalling the application.

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