HSBC customers can open new bank accounts using a selfie

HSBC customers can now open an account with a selfie
HSBC customers can now open an account with a selfie

HSBC business customers can now open new accounts by taking a selfie picture in order to verify their identity.

A mobile app uses facial recognition software to take a headshot of a customer, which is then compared against a photo ID uploaded by the customer, such as a driver's licence or passport.

This change is intended to simplify and speed up the process of opening a new account using a mobile or digital device, and reflects the increasing tendency of customers to open accounts online.

Almost half of all new HSBC business accounts are now opened online, compared to just 10 percent of accounts in 2013, according to the bank.

"Through simplifying the ID verification process, we'll be able to save our business customers time and open accounts quicker," said Richard Davies, HSBC's head of global propositions for commercial banking, in a press release published Monday.

Tara Moore | Getty Images

"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."

HSBC is the latest bank to adopt biometric technology to improve security. Biometrics include the use of facial recognition, fingerprint scans and even measuring heartrate, in order to verify a customer's identity.

For instance, and Bank of Montreal both outlined plans earlier in the year to introduce biometric checks for credit card customers.

"I think the whole biometric space is a great way of protecting yourself when you are doing payments," Ann Cairns, head of international markets for MasterCard, told CNBC in February.

"There are a whole range of biometrics that say 'I'm me, I'm making a payment' and it just makes the whole thing more secure."

Biometric security is becoming more common because it is more convenient for consumers and the technology has become cheaper, but there are still some problems.

"Facial recognition is a good example of biometric authentication that can still prove challenging to implement, as it tends to be prone to a high false positive rate. Something as simple as a pair of sunglasses could falsify or reject a facial scan," Sian John, chief strategist EMEA at Symantec, told CNBC via email in April.

"While there is still a long way to go in biometrics becoming the norm for authentication, it's clear to see the long-term benefits on offer. After all, a pin can be stolen with a quick glance over your shoulder. However stealing a fingerprint? That's a little more difficult."

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