There are a few terms in the financial world that inspire that deep sense of frustration – one such term is FICA. If you want to open a bank account, get a personal loan, get loan approval or settle your debt you will need to be FICA’ed – and probably more than once.

Like other 4-letter words starting with “F”, FICA is not something we like to mention in polite terms. Basically, it’s the method used by financial institutions in South Africa to ensure the person, or people, attempting to do anything involving money are who they claim to be. It generally involves supplying 3 months of bank statements, a copy of your ID and a proof of residence.

Now, most of those things seem simple enough to get – especially in the days when banks used to send you bank statements in the mail. Or when you used to receive bills in the post. But the world has moved on from hard-copy documents. Most of our bills come via the internet – you even get your Clicks Club rewards online now.

Then there are these elusive bank statements. Banks don’t send us statements anymore. Instead, we get emailed “links” to our history online. But you can’t just print that out – you need a certified statement from your bank and that means a trip to your local branch.

Not all is lost though! There are new technologies starting to come to the fore in the internet loan world. Now you don’t need 3 months bank statements printed out and stamped with that ugly blue mark the banks love. All you do is plug your online banking credentials into a program – using the same security measures as normal online banking procedures use – and hey presto, statements were done.

This not only makes for fast loans but also allows for you to get a complete and free credit report. This means that you now know your credit status before you even take out a loan. This helps you make an informed decision on how much money you want to borrow and what interest rate won’t leave you struggling for months to come.

FICA is an unfortunate, necessary evil. It might keep those dodgy money launders at bay but it also adds a layer of frustration to everything financial. So next time you need to get a personal loan you should check out the options online that streamline the process and stop you using that other four-lettered “F” word.