Thai banks on track to offer mobile account opening with facial recognition next quarter

Thai banks are on pace to be able to offer account opening through mobile banking apps in the next quarter with facial recognition after the ten participants in a Bank of Thailand test exit the regulatory sandbox, the Bangkok Post reports.

The bank and non-bank institutions testing facial recognition for electronic know your customer (eKYC) checks must prove the technology is accurate, consistently available, and secure from hacks and fraud, and the central bank is overseeing rules for data security, privacy, and safe e-signature processes, its Assistant Governer Siritida Panomwon Na Ayudhya told the Post. Institutions are also expected to train their staff to help people with the technology and solve related customer problems as they arise.

The central bank chose facial recognition as the modality for eKYC processes due to the availability of reliable data sources such as from citizen ID cards for matching, and also because the technology is convenient to access through smarthphones, Siritida says. In the future, personal information required for a digital bank account could possibly be shared with a second bank to open an additional account.

The use of facial recognition for eKYC requirements was approved by Thailand’s cabinet last year to promote financial inclusivity by extending services to those who cannot practically visit branches.

Banks including Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikornbank and Bank of Ayudhya are known to be participating in the central bank’s facial recognition testing, and at least one institution is testing iris recognition for internal authentication processes. Payment projects that have exited the sanbox after testing include 19 QR code systems, 11 using Mastercard’s PromptPay p2p application, and four using credit or debit card barcodes. Four card-based processes remain in testing. Additionally, eight banks and seven other companies are experimenting with blockchain for letters of guarantee, and three are working on cross-border money transfers based on blockchain. The bank has allowed institutions to move their blockchain tests to their own sandbox environments to continue testing.

Thailand is also moving ahead with a decentralized national digital ID system, which is expected to be launched to the public between April and June of this year.

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