HSBC business customers will no longer need to visit a branch to open a bank account, as the launch of selfie verification allows them to do it from their mobile device.

The high street bank have launched the unique facial recognition software to create a simplified application process for prospective clients, by giving them the opportunity to complete ID security checks on the go.

The selfie verification will use facial tracking technology to capture an initial headshot of a customer, which is then assessed against an ID document uploaded by the customer, such as a drivers licence or passport.

The application device is capable of recognising and verifying documents from up to 150 countries, and with almost half of all business current accounts now being opened online, compared to just 10% in 2013, it will create a more streamlined experience for many businesses.

HSBC’s head of global propositions for commercial banking, Richard Davies, said: “Through simplifying the ID verification process, we’ll be able to save our business customers time and open accounts quicker.

“We also expect the convenience and speed of a ‘selfie’ to become the verification method of choice for our customers, who no longer need to visit a branch to complete the process.”

The ‘selfie’ mobile application has been introduced to meet the changing banking behaviours of customers, specifically their preference to use digital and online channels.

HSBC said this change of behaviour has become increasingly prominent in the way customers choose to open an account.

In addition to ‘selfie’ verification, HSBC also has the only digital platform that enables business customers to complete entire lending applications exclusively online. The LinkScreen service was launched for UK commercial banking customers in late 2015, and has since cut business application and approval times in half.

A survey by customer identity management firm Gigya found that 52% of consumers would choose anything but a traditional username and password account registration when given the option, with 80% of them believing biometric authentication such as the selfie verification is more secure.

Richard Lack, director of sales at Gigya said: “Critics wrongly argue that authentication using selfies is gimmicky, and somehow less secure, when in truth this is a brilliant application of well-proven facial recognition technology which has been around for decades.

“This makes it appeal to target customers, who value convenience and ease of access to their banking facilities, but refuse to compromise security.”

Mr Lack argued that all forms of biometric security have their weaknesses. He said: “Iris scanning which was recently announced on Samsung’s new devices can be fooled by simply holding up a photograph of the user, which is why Samsung asks its users to blink.

“Fingerprint verification has been hacked using simple Play-Doh and there are numerous accounts of phones being unlocked while their owners are either asleep or incapacitated due to alcohol.”

He added: “Over the next few years we can expect to see this technology creep into all handsets, laptops, PC’s and even vehicles. While biometrics can offer a powerful form of authentication, it is essential that people understand the importance of protecting their biometric credentials.”

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