Take a selfie: open a bank account

Taking selfies was once the preserve of lonely people posting details of their lives on social media but now it looks as though it might be a way for banks to improve the experience for customers.

As part of its ‘investment’ in digital technology new customers at the Bank of Scotland will be able to snap a picture of themselves on their smart devices as a way of opening an account, as an alternative to visiting branches with forms of ID.

The selfie technology is set to be embedded within a ‘new simplified application form’ which “sometimes” requires new customers to provide ID. According to a bank spokesperson the reason why it is “sometimes” and not “all the time” is to screen out existing customers.

According to parent company Lloyds Banking Group those customers will then be asked to take pictures of their UK driving licence or passport, along with ‘selfie images to confirm their identity’.

The spokesperson added that users will be asked to complete a three-step selfie verification process during which they will be sent a code to confirm. At the moment the technology will simply be used for opening accounts, and will not be used as a form of facial recognition for when users log on, although the Group is exploring how image-based technology could be used for security purposes.

There will also be no need for customers to download an app as the ID verification technology is web-based and images can be submitted via a smartphone/tablet web browser.

Information from the company reads: “This greatly simplifies the current account application process for new customers and gives them the flexibility to open an account quickly from the comfort of their own home.

“Customers are guided through the process with simple instructions on screen and the whole process only takes a matter of minutes. Within a maximum of two working days the customer will be informed of the result of their application, although this can happen within an hour.”

Nick Williams, Consumer Digital Director, Lloyds Banking Group, said: “We recognise the importance of simplifying our processes to allow customers to easily open a new personal current account from whichever device they prefer. Today’s customers now expect an experience which is simple and efficient, and as they are increasingly digitally savvy they want to interact with us in a way that suits their busy and mobile lifestyles.”

Lloyds Banking Group is also set to become the first organisation in Europe to introduce Pindrop’s Phoneprinting tech, rolling out the software across the Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland brands early next year. This creates an “audio fingerprint” of phone calls by analysing 147 unique call features – such as location, background noise, number history and call type – to highlight unusual activity, identify potential fraud and stop criminal callers. There is no need for customers to provide any additional information.