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Opening an online bank account - A step by step guide

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Opening an online bank account - A step by step guide

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For several months, I had been planning to open a new bank account online exclusively to save some money for my long-due international vacation. But work and life kept getting in the way, and I almost gave up the idea until my tech-savvy neighbour — who had come home for a bit of tea and chit-chat one evening — turned things around and guided me through it.

I was a bit of an old-fashioned person, you see. I preferred doing things the way we did them before the internet became a household necessity. But that day, my millennial neighbour walked me through how online bank account opening works. And — believe it or not — I managed to open my new bank account online by the end of the next day! 

Well, to me, discovering the world of online banking was like Alice going down the rabbit hole (see, old-fashioned Lewis Carrol fan here). And I can’t wait to spread the word about it. If you, like me, have been wary of banking online, or even if you’ve just been out of the loop, we can change that today, with this step-by-step guide on how to open a new bank account online.

But first, what is an online bank account?

An online bank account is simply a savings account that you can open and manage online. To understand how it works, we need to take a little trip back in time. 

If you are in your 30s or 40s, you may recall a time when you had to pay a visit to your local bank branch to fill out a form manually and open your savings account. Or, if you’re younger, maybe ask your parents about it. 

They’ll tell you about how you had to fill out a deposit slip to deposit funds into your account. And how, when you needed some funds from your account, you had to fill out a withdrawal slip to access your money. All of this in person!

But an online bank account eliminates all these cumbersome processes. 

You can open your account online today, right from the comfort of your home. And you can transfer funds, pay your bills, start an FD, make an investment and even pay your taxes without getting off your couch. No more queues, no more waiting, and no more taking half a day off from work (with a pay cut), just to withdraw some cash. 

All you need is an internet connection and a smart device. And you’re pretty much set. But how exactly does online bank account opening work? Allow me to explain. That said, there's a whole bunch of differences between traditional banks, digital banks, and neobanks, explore them here.

A quick guide to opening a new bank account online

India has around 12 public sector banks, 20 private banks, and a growing network of neobanks too. The process of opening a new bank account online naturally varies slightly from one entity to another. But, generally speaking, here is how you can open a new bank account online. 

Step 1: Choose your banking partner

With the digital banking revolution being truly underway, you can open an online bank account with most banks in India nowadays. So, take some time to research what your options are and choose a banking partner that you are comfortable with. Here are some factors to check out before making a decision.

  • The interest rate on your account:

If you are planning to open a savings account online, you’ll want to maximise the interest earned on your account balance. And the higher the rate of interest, the more interest you earn. So, look at the interest rate your preferred banks offer before shortlisting your options. 

  • The bank’s charges and fees:

Banks also levy charges and fees on various things like ATM fees, regular service charges and overdraft fees. There are also international transaction fees, excess transaction fees and charges for paper statements in some banks. Factor these into your decision.

  • The minimum balance requirement:

Some bank accounts may have a zero balance requirement, while others may require you to have a minimum sum in your account at all times. This could range from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,00,000 or higher. Quite a wide range, isn’t it? 

If you fail to maintain the minimum balance as per the terms and conditions, banks will levy a penalty. So, you can choose your bank based on the level of balance you’ll be able to maintain. 

  • The level of accessibility and support:

No matter how high the interest rate or how low the fees, a bank only makes for a good partner if you can reach out to the team for support. So, check out how easy (or difficult) it is to get in touch with the bank’s helpline and find out the quality of their customer support before you make a choice. 

Step 2: Visit the bank’s website or use their app

Once you’ve chosen your banking partner, visit their website or download their app (if they have one). You’ll generally find the option for new online bank account opening under the ‘Products’ section in the app or the website. 

Navigate to the relevant section and click on the option to open an account. 

Step 3: Fill in the application form

In the application form, you may have to enter some basic details like your name, your date of birth, email ID, phone number, and other such information. The exact details required will vary from one bank to another. But most online interfaces are user-friendly and self-explanatory. You can easily navigate through this step without any confusion.

Step 4: Submit the necessary paperwork 

Once you have duly filled in the application form, you’ll need to attach soft copies of the documents required. This list may vary slightly from one bank to the next, but broadly speaking, here is what the required paperwork may include —

  • Aadhaar card
  • Proof of identity (like your PAN card, driver’s licence or passport)
  • Proof of address (like your voter ID, driver’s licence or passport)
  • Form 16 (may be required if you do not have a PAN)
  • Latest passport-size photographs

Some banks may require you to self-attest your documents before submitting them online. Check out the finer details of the online bank account opening process and follow them accurately.

Step 5: Complete the KYC process

KYC is short form Know Your Customer. It is a mandatory process that banks need to follow before allowing you to open an online account. Basically, they need to verify your identity and ensure that you are who you claim to be. Some banks may have a video KYC requirement as a part of the bank account opening process. 

If your chosen banking partner has this requirement, a bank official will connect with you over a video call. All you need to do is attend the call and give them the details they ask for, so they can verify your identity. Don’t worry about it too much. It’s a perfectly safe and common practice.

Step 6: Start banking!

Well, that’s that! Surely, digital banking comes with benefits you don't want to miss out on - check some out here. Once you have completed the KYC process, you will receive the credentials to log into your online bank account. This may take a few hours or a few days, depending on the bank. You can then use these details to log into your online bank account and start banking!

Looking for an easier way to open an online account? Fi says Hi!

It took my new online bank account one whole day to be activated. But you don’t even have to wait that long. If you are a working professional, you can simply open a savings account with Fi in less than 5 minutes! 

It’s quick and easy. And absolutely hassle-free. Plus, it’s a zero balance account — meaning you don’t need to maintain a minimum balance ever! 

If this sounds like something you’re looking for, let me walk you through the steps you need to follow to open an online savings account with Fi.

Step 1: Download the Fi Money app

The Fi Money app is available on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. So, whatever OS your smartphone has, there’s the Fi Money app for you. Simply download the app onto your phone. 

Step 2: Verify your employment status

Fi’s digital savings account is specifically tailored to meet the needs of working professionals. So, you need to undergo a simple and quick screening process to verify your employment status. This shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.

Step 3: Open your online savings account

Once your employment status has been verified, your Fi digital savings account is open and ready to use. All in less than 5 minutes!

The bottom line

With online bank account opening now becoming so common, we’re truly in the era of having banking at our fingertips. The future of online banking is something you shouldn't miss out on. And I, for one, am glad I was able to open a new bank account online in the short span of just one day. You know what that means, right? I can now start saving up for my international vacation!

If you have any such short-term goals, a separate online bank account — perhaps one that gives you a high rate of interest — may be just what you need. Go ahead and open a new bank account online today! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

  • Can I open a bank account online in India?

Yes, today, you can certainly open a bank account online in India. All you need is an internet connection and a smart device like a laptop or a smartphone, and you’re good to go!

  • Can I open a bank account online without going to the bank?

Yes, you can open an online bank account through the bank’s website or on their app. You need to fill in the required information, submit the necessary documents and complete the KYC process as needed. That’s it! Your bank account will then be opened and ready to use. 

  • Which banks allow you to open an account online?

Today, with the banking sector becoming significantly digitised, most leading banks in India in the public and private sectors allow you to open an account online. Neobanks, on the other hand, only allow online account opening since they do not have any physical presence. 

  • Can I open a bank account online with no money?

If you are opening a zero balance account, you may be able to open your account without depositing any money right away. However, it’s best to check with your bank about their terms and policies regarding this.

Time to switch to Fi. Smart banking and only that.
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