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Brief Published: 11 Jul 2019

NatWest Adopts AI-Powered Selfie Recognition


NatWest has become the first UK high-street bank to allow customers to open an account with just photo ID and a selfie. The move streamlines the normally time-consuming process by removing the requirement to visit a branch and wait for verification.

NatWest’s new biometric application process uses artificial intelligence (AI) to authenticate a customer’s selfie against their government-verified photo ID (such as a passport or driving license). This bypasses the need for people to visit a branch or trust the postal service with handling their sensitive personal information. It also enables NatWest to accept international ID documentation, making the banks’ services accessible to more people.

NatWest claims the process takes as little as four minutes, and can be paused and restarted at any time. Disruptor banks like Monzo and Starling already allow people to set up accounts with a short selfie video and photo ID. As the first high-street bank to do so, it signals a move away from traditional banking processes towards more user-friendly procedures. We explore the rise in biometric banking in Platforms & Services Reborn, part of our Spotlight Trend, The Future of Money.

The scheme was developed in partnership with British ID verification company HooYu. Emphasising the new system’s accessibility and security benefits, the company’s marketing director, David Pope, said: “Our work with NatWest balances the twin demands of compliance and convenience.”

The pilot, which involved 60,000 customers, saw significant reductions of fraudulent applications. As NatWest can track the location of a person’s application, it allows for further fraud checks compared to the traditional method.

With service providers simplifying onboarding, the use of facial recognition and other biometric verification processes will expand across a range of industries.  For more on using data to streamline service, read our Embracing Onboarding report.