Finally, some significant leaps are being made in the banking world around the tangible, practical benefits that biometrics can bring when it comes to personal verification. Last week HSBC, the world’s biggest bank, became the first financial organisation to announce that its customers will soon be able to open an account using photo-recognition.

The move by HSBC to allow its customers to use “selfies” to open accounts made for great headlines in the press, but it promises to be only the start of what we believe will be an advanced biometric revolution.  

Only last month, our chief technology officer, Matt Law, asked in a timely op-ed article in Tech City News: “Why it is so hard to open a business bank account in our digitally-enabled, mass-connected world?”

Opening a new business bank account can still take up to two months, and sometimes even longer. The archaic process means as few as 10% of businesses who start the application process actually complete it. The main problem, notes Law, is that we are being held back by a disconnected and dysfunctional verification process. 

Potential customers are still tied to producing a number of paper-based documents, such as a passport, driving licence, utility bill, or – as is often the case – all three.

Advances in biometrics that enable the analysis of physical characteristics unique to an individual have the potential to unlock faster ID checks and create a more seamless process in all areas involving personal identification.

It’s a simple message that goes to the heart of what we’re trying to do here at Contego, and it’s one that is gaining traction around the world. As Richard Davies, HSBC’s head of global propositions for commercial banking, pointed out: “Through simplifying the ID verification process, we’ll be able to save our business customers time and open accounts quicker.”

He added: "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.”

Contego’s platform is designed to handle complex, multi-source ID verification and fraud reduction checks for individuals and companies. In the imminent future, these checks will only have to be completed once, and then can be shared between organisations, negating the need for people to repeatedly have their identity and backgrounds scrutinised. The process is as simple as a fingerprint scan, or submitting a selfie. 

We believe this is just the start, and that life is about to become much easier for many.