Give more leeway to bank customers with inconsistent signatures

Recently, I issued a cheque to a friend, which was rejected when she went to cash it at the DBS Bank branch at Plaza Singapura.

The bank staff said it was because my signature was irregular.

They said I had to go down to the bank in person and verify it with my identity card and subsequent signatures.

Why couldn't the bank have simply phoned me and verified my identity and my approval for the cheque?

I spoke to a bank staff member over the phone and explained that there are people with inconsistent signatures because of things like untidy handwriting, shaky hands or nerve damage.

However, she could not offer me a satisfactory solution.

A taxi driver overheard me and told me that he faced the same problem - every time he issued a cheque, he had to go down to the bank to verify the transaction.

The bank's only solution was to update his signature.

He had thought of updating his signature to something non-cursive and simple, but was told this was not accepted, as it would have been easy to forge.

By insisting on an exactly matching signature, DBS, and probably other banks, are inconveniencing customers and not catering to people who have inconsistent signatures.

I hopethat there can be more flexibility.

Perhaps the customer can sign an authorisation form that permits "irregular looking" signatures, with an additional verification phone call, for each cheque.

Jason Su Chenglong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2016, with the headline 'Give more leeway to bank customers with inconsistent signatures'. Print Edition | Subscribe