How to claim online wallet accounts from online shopping sites
How Big Malls and Online Shopping Sites lure the Customers?
During my recent holiday trip to Southern India, I had the chance to stay at Bengaluru for 3-4 days with my son. On weekend days I had the chance to shop at Big Bazaar situated in Phoenix Market City, Whitefield Main Road, Mahadevapura, Bengaluru - 560048. Immediately when I entered the Big Bazaar, I was encircled by the salesman to get the Profit Club Membership offering attractive discounts. On this particular day, the Big Bazaar was offering to pay only Rs.4000 on the total purchase value of Rs.5700 in addition to other discounts displayed at the respective counters. As the offer was irresistible, I immediately took the Profit Club Membership and even deposited Rs.4000 in my profit club member account or you can say "My Wallet" account with Big Bazaar.
Hardly after 2 minutes, I heard an announcement to deposit another Rs.10000 in the wallet account and shop for Rs.12000 @ Rs.1000 per month for one year with a clear profit of Rs.2000. There was a big rush to avail the offer as the offer was limited to first 100 subscribers.
Can Online Shopping Sites Legally maintain Wallet Accounts?
I, being from the banking industry, started thinking about such wallet accounts maintained by online shopping sites on behalf of their customers. The major legal issues which came to my mind were as under:
- As the Big Bazar counter people were also accepting cash from the customers, to subscribe to their wallet account balance of Rs.10000 to shop for 12000, immediately came into mind that they were doing the banking business under the guise of selling products without following any KYC guidelines.
- No facility of Joint Wallet Accounts with a mandate of "Either or Survivor" or "Former or Survivor" was allowed to the wallet account holders on the pattern of deposits in bank accounts.
- No nomination facility is available for wallet accounts allowed by Google Wallet or online shopping sites.
- The amount of money lying idle in wallet accounts carries no interest even at the savings bank rate.
- There is no law in India or elsewhere throughout the world to report the inactive wallet accounts to the financial controllers in the country like Reserve Bank of India.
- There is no auto-freeze on unoperated wallet accounts after the minimum prescribed period of say six months as in banks.
- In case of death of the wallet account holder, the online shopping sites do not guide the gullible customers about the claim procedure to be adopted by the legal heirs when no nomination facility is available.
- No facility of Inter Wallet Account transfer is allowed so as to facilitate the hospitalized owner of the wallet to transfer credit in the wallet to another wallet account.
Note by Author: After I published this article the online Wallet sites were asked by the Government Authorities to check eKYC of the end users and they also started accepting the nominations in the Wallet accounts. Inter-user with the same wallet has also been activated. Now Intra-Wallet is the only limitation in Indian wallet accounts as it will bring in the concept of easy portability and the end user will feel free to transfer his/her wallet balances from one wallet to another wallet.
What should be done to claim online wallet accounts
Online shoppers, who maintain online wallet accounts with shopping sites selling products and services, are aware that such wallet accounts are linked to the email ID and active mobile number of the shopper-cum-owner of the wallet. Under the present circumstances, till the national governments get awakened to frame laws to check transactions through such wallet accounts, I suggest that the wallet owners may nominate their nominee in an email through Inactive Account Manager so that the nominee can take control of the wallet account through nominated email account of the deceased wallet account holder. Once having accessed the wallet account the nominee can update the mobile number and email ID of his or her choice. It is better to make purchases from the site equivalent to the balance in the wallet account as online wallet accounts do not allow inter wallet account transfers as in banking accounts.
Note and Update by Author: With the introduction of Nomination facility activated in wallet accounts, the above guidelines become redundant. However there are some wallet companies whose nomination facility is not working properly, the end users can safeguard their wallet balances to be used and accessed by their loved ones.
© 2015 Ashok Goyal