Last week, a friend of mine decided he wanted to open a checking account with Bank of North Dakota. So, he took a few thousand dollars to the bank to open one. When he got there, he was told he could only enter the building if he had an existing account with the bank. The reason why he could not enter the building without an account is because of COVID-19. This is not posted on the building or noted on the Bank of North Dakota's website.

My friend was surprised to be turned away, but thought it was maybe just a misunderstanding. He tried again, during the posted business hours, today (February 8), and was stopped by a person at the entrance of the bank. As the BND website's guide for opening a bank account instructed, he had proof of North Dakota residency, wore a mask, and came with money for the state bank, but was still denied.

Still confused, my friend decided he needed to learn why he could not become a customer of the Bank of North Dakota. So, he called the bank to see what he needs to do to open a checking or savings account. He was told that people can only come to the bank to do such a thing if they have an appointment BUT that only people with existing accounts could get appointments. There is no indication on the bank's website or posted at their single physical location that new customers cannot open checking/savings accounts.

My friend and I both did a little more digging to try to understand why new customers can't currently open new checking/ savings accounts with the Bank of North Dakota. I even called and was informed by a teller that opening checking and savings accounts has been suspended since the beginning of the pandemic. Then I was told that opening these types of accounts would resume after the lobby opens back up.

When I asked about when the lobby will open, I was told that they did not know. They also did not know why the bank stopped taking new accounts (other than COVID) or who controlled this event. Since Governor Doug Burgum is one of the powers that controls the Bank of North Dakota, I reached out to him on Facebook for further answers to my questions. I am waiting for a response.

Why do you think North Dakotans are currently unable to come to the Bank of North Dakota as new checking/savings customers?

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