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QCOSTARICA – Making it easier to open a bank account and obtain a debit card is the goal behind the change in regulations expected to be approved by the board of director of the Central Bank next week.

According to Carlos Melegatti, director of the Sistema de Pagos (Payment System) at the Banco Central de Costa Rica (BCCR), the goal is to simplify the process to allow more people to use the banking system.

The BCCR estimates that up to 35% of the population lacks access to banking services.

Once approved, all a customer requires is a cedula or passport for nationals (the Documento de Identificación de Migración y Extranjería – Dimex for foreigners) and a telephone number to link to the account.

Under the simplified process, the BCCR proposes to establish three type of accounts with limits: up to US$1,000, up to US$2,000 and up to US$10,000.

For higher amounts customers have to use the “normal” banking process, which can include providing verification of residence, filing a statement of income, and certificate issued by an employer or certified public account. Additionally, some banks require reference letters.

The approach being adopted by the Central Bank would open door of users to other services, such as electronic payment for buses, a project that is still in the works between the BCCR, the Regulatory Authority of Public Services (Aresep) and the Ministry of the Transport (MOPT).

Melegatti asks rhetorically the question asked by many, “if the account is to pay me my salary every month and does not have much variation, why am I asked for so many requirements to open an account?”