HSBC to allow business customers to open new bank accounts using selfies

UK bank HSBC will allow business customers to open new bank accounts using selfies, as part of plans to simplify the lender's application process.

The lender will now use face recognition software to verify self-portrait photos taken by customers using their smartphones. A headshot selfie would then be assessed against an ID document uploaded by the customer, such as a driver's licence or passport, using a mobile app available to both Android and Apple smartphone users. With the use of selfies, business customers need not visit branches to open an account.

HSBC's head of global propositions for commercial banking, Richard Davies, said in a statement, ''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.''

Apart from "selfie" verification, the digital platform made available by HSBC allows business customers to complete loan applications online. The bank launched the LinkScreen service for UK commercial banking customers in late 2015, which had cut business application and approval times in half, the bank said.

HSBC said its new app, which is capable of recognising and verifying documents from up to 150 countries globally, has been introduced to "better meet the changing behaviour of customers, specifically their preference to use digital and online channels."

"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."

According to the banking giant almost half of all new HSBC Business Current accounts are opened online, as against just 10 per cent in 2013.