Hong Kong startup Neat approves prepaid cards through facial recognition
Launched in early December, Neat’s prepaid credit cards are designed specifically for students and first-time jobholders with limited or no credit history who can’t get approved for a credit card from traditional financial institutions.
“We are targeting the millennial demographic, students or young professionals who … don’t necessarily qualify for a credit card because they don’t have a credit history, or might not want a credit card because they’re afraid of getting into debt,” Neat’s CEO David Rosa said.
“For this group of people, if they cannot have a credit card, it’s difficult to shop online … It limits their financial freedom.”
After downloading the Neat app, users are asked to enter their biographical details as well as upload a proof of address and their passport photograph, which the app scans to verify authenticity.
The app then prompts users to take a “selfie” to verify that the applicant is actually the same individual whose picture appears in the passport.
If the images match, the app immediately issues a virtual “prepaid credit card” that the user can start using for online purchases while the actual card is mailed out to the user within a week.
Users can add money to their Neat card by depositing cash at more than 200 Bank of China cash deposit machines throughout Hong Kong or via an online transfer to a designated bank account. Rosa says it takes less than one working day for the money to be added to the user’s prepaid card.
Neat said it also plans to offer a new option this year that allows users to link their bank accounts to the Neat app so that they are able to topup their cards directly.
The app also allows users to budget by tracking how much money they have spent in various categories including food, entertainment and travel for each week, month or year.
In the event that users lose their card, they can freeze the card through the app to prevent fraudulent spending while they wait for a replacement card.