Banks to Access Agency’s Database

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Commercial banks in Ethiopia will soon be able to access the database of the Federal Documents Authentication and Registration Agency (DARA).

The integration, which is in the final stages, will allow banks to directly verify and confirm the authenticated power of attorney documents issued by the Agency.

Developed by Custor Computing Plc, a local IT firm, the system gives banks read access privilege over the Agency’s power of attorney database, allowing banks to instantly verify the authenticity of power of attorney documents presented to them in their day to day operations.

Authenticating power of attorney contracts is one of the five major services given by the Agency. A power of attorney refers to a written authorization that provides an agent with authority to represent or act on behalf of one’s private, business, and legal affairs.

Ethiopian law mandates such types of documents to be notarized by the Agency as they transfer high power to the agent, including the right to sell the principal’s property, withdraw money from banks, and even take loans in the principal’s name.  

Due to such nature of the contracts, the Agency states that many people try to gain undue benefits using the forged power of attorney documents.

“Many crimes are committed by people who claim to be agents but never received the power to do so,” said Muluken Amare, general director of Director the Agency.

And according to Muluken, banks are one of the primary victims.

“Sometimes banks personally send us the power of attorney documents asking us whether we authenticated or not,” added Muluken. 

The Agency states that by allowing banks to verify the power of attorney documents themselves immediately, it can curb forgery and illegal actions that are done through such types of documents.

There are 17 operational commercial banks in Ethiopia, while there are close to 15 banks under formation.

“The development of the system took close to a year,” said Aklile Fantahun, a programmer at Custor Computing Plc, a 25-year-old IT firm. 

The database integration is an extension of the Agency’s digitization project dubbed Documents Authentication & Registration Information System (DARIS).

Developed by Custor at the cost of 5.3 million birr, the Agency had been taking its operations online since June 2018 and had been continuously digitizing most of its services one by one.

Begging from March 2020, the Agency introduced a Quick Response code (QR code) in its document authentication and registration operation.

Also launched to tackle forgery and illegal actions, the QR Codes are printed on authenticated power of attorney documents.

Any interested person can scan the code and verify whether the authenticated document has been confirmed and released by the Agency.

In the past fiscal year, the Agency authenticated close to 350,000 power of attorney documents, which amounted to 44 pc of its word load.

Besides authenticating power of attorney documents, the Agency also registers and validates rental agreements, agreements relating to the sale of vehicles and immovable properties, loan contracts, and memorandum of associations.

Three weeks ago, the Agency, after temporarily stopping its authentication and registration of immovable sale contracts service, had also started queuing the service requests online.

The Agency, established in 1987, serves around 6000 customers a day in its 15 branches. In the past fiscal year, it collected 510 million Br serving 1.4 million customers both in-person and online.