NatWest customers can now open an account without stepping into a bank – by using a SELFIE

Customers will use “state-of-the-art” artificial intelligence technology to verify their identity in a process which the bank says can take as little as four minutes. To prove who they are, those looking to open an account will need to upload their selfie along with a photo ID, such as a passport. Checks will then by made by NatWest digitally to make sure the selfie matches up with the ID document provided. As well as not having to visit a branch, it means customers will not need to worry about posting identify documents or waiting for the account-opening process to be completed.

To avoid fraudulent activity, the bank said the documents are authenticated and additional checks, including the location of the application, will be made.

The identify system will also analyse facial biometrics and the customer’s digital footprint.

The bank said fraudulent applications dropped “significantly” during a trial period involving more than 60,000 customers.

NatWest, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland group, has worked with ID verification company HooYu to launch the new service.

HooYu has worked with Tower Hamlets council in London and bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral to investigate fraudulent applications for school places and betting.

David Pope, marketing director at HooYu, said: “In today’s digital age, customers expect to be able to do everything on-demand, they don’t want to have to go into a branch or wait for a day or two for account opening to be completed.

“Our work with NatWest balances the twin demands of compliance and convenience.

“Our unique identity platform that combines many forms of identity verification technology is designed not only to bring extra security into the account opening process but also to make customer on-boarding simpler and quicker.”

Digital banks Monzo and Starling offer a similar process which sees customers record a short video to prove their identity.

Facial recognition is also being used by the majority of major banks as a way to log into online banking systems.

Mastercard announced biometric payment app Identity Check Mobile in October 2016, which allows customers to blink to their camera in order to prove they are real and not a photograph.

Barclays and Lloyds have also experimented with voice recognition.