Banks embrace biometrics for new account opening, remote access

Russia’s central database struggles, while FIs in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Singapore broaden services

biometric facial recognition

Russia’s Ministry of Digital industry has declared that a register of organizations able to access the country’s Unified Biometric System (UBS) will be kept by Rostelecom, which operates the system, Vedomosti reports.

The biometric system is open to banks for face and voice recognition, and became available to insurance companies as of January 1, 2021, but it will be opened up to others, including telecommunications companies and retailers, over time. To join the registry, applicants must establish an agreement with Rostelecom, but there is no fee for inclusion. A 200-ruble (US$2.70) fee will be charged for identity verifications, with the proceeds split between the company registering the individual, the vendor providing the biometric functionality, and Rostelecom.

Vedomosti mentions VisionLabs and NtechLab among possible UBS capability providers, and writes that one bank told it that it receives half of the fee.

Applicants must ensure they can meet the requirements for personal data security in Russian law, and install and configure their own biometric terminals.

The registry is being made available to the public online.

Russians can also remotely authenticate their identity through the UBS to access a range of government and financial services, and even use the Unified System of Identification and Authentication (ESIA) to access encrypted personal data to authenticate themselves without presenting their passports.

By the end of 2020, the UBS had registered the biometrics of 160,000 users, but at least one financial services organization says it must reach 50 million people to be widely used.

Receiving 100 rubles may not be enough of an incentive for banks to enroll customers, who can then use the same data with other institutions. Instead, many banks are standing up their own biometric databases, and Sberbank, which owns a majority of Speech Technology Center, has reportedly already registered several million customers.

A representative of the NAFI (National Agency for Foreign Investment) Analytical Center said that while banks have worked to earn the public trust that must back biometric data use, organizations in other sectors have not. The representative also said 48 percent of Russians do not understand what the UBS is.

Banks in South Asia extend remote capabilities with biometrics

Downloads of Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon’s app, which provides biometric logins to bank accounts via fingerprints and facial recognition, have grown by 150,000 in the six months since it launched self-registration for new accounts, reports ColumboPage.

The app allows users to carry out a variety of processes remotely, and further upgrades are planned to extend its functionality.

The CommBank ePassbook, originally launched in 2016, has now registered a total of more than 1 million customers.

Customers of Cambodia’s Acleda Bank can now open accounts and apply for bank cards from Virtual teller machines (VTMs) featuring facial recognition and fingerprint biometrics, the Khmer Times reports.

The machines not only provide self-service account opening, but print out ‘ATM Classic Cards.’

The VTMs also feature ID document scanners, and can print replacement cards for customers who have lost theirs, following biometric identity verification.

Singapore’s DBS Bank has launched online corporate account-opening for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through biometric authentication with GovTech’s SingPass, The Straits Times writes.

SingPass Face Verification, introduced in December with biometric technology provided by iProov and Toppan, also provides passwordless account access through mobile device cameras and webcams. DBS said the online new account onboarding service takes about 20 minutes.

Application forms can be mostly pre-filled is the customer approves a call to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) or MyInfo Business.

The SingPass Face Verification database contains biometrics and identity data for four million Singapore residents aged 15 and over.

DBS was the first financial institution in the country to adopt SingPass.

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