HSBC Bank has adopted new identity verification tech and onboarding methods for its U.S. Premier checking accounts.
The move is an attempt to leverage the bank’s new digital application to expand its international customer base.
“We’ve been working on a number of different initiatives to make it easy for international customers to work with us,” said Paul Mullins, regional head of international for HSBC’s wealth and personal banking business. “Well, the biggest challenge is the remote verification and how do you get comfortable with somebody … often with 15 different types of identification that could or could not be used.”
As such, the $212 billion dollar bank tapped Mitek, a software provider based in San Diego, to adopt its biometric verification technology. This is the first time New York-based HSBC Bank is working with Mitek, and the bank is taking an iterative approach, incorporating the risk department into the development process to “build up credibility” and “get them comfortable with what’s breaking ground,” Mullins said.
After all, prior to the launch of this new international client onboarding process, bringing on new international customers was exclusively paper-based and required a branch visit 90% of the time, according to the bank. While financial services is just beginning to explore the use of biometric verification on the whole, Mullins said he could see “the use of biometrics as a very important part of the future state of the verification process, which isn’t really the case today.”
HSBC also reworked the roles within its “International Banking Center,” (IBC) training employees to undertake the new onboarding process, while staffing up the Buffalo-based call center. Upon submitting a digital application from the HSBC USA website, consumers will have a video call with the IBC team who will verify the customer’s ID by asking them to take a “selfie,” and then cross-checking that photo with the customer’s passport photo. The idea is for the IBC team, made up of about 30 people, to be a more specialized unit, Mullins said, and in that vein, the team offloaded some generic tasks to other service channels within the bank.
The new international client onboarding “fits really went into enabling a smoother journey for customers as they come to us, but enables existing people [in the U.S.] to be able to bank with us and not necessarily in the footprint of our branch network,” Mullins said. “We’re able to support individuals in areas we don’t have coverage right now.”
HSBC USA isn’t the only bank leveraging its international connectivity to reach customers outside of its domestic footprint amid the pandemic and shifts to digital banking. Toronto-based BMO Financial Group recently partnered with Google to launch digital bank accounts in the U.S. by 2021, a move that Chief Digital Officer Brett Pitts is hoping will be a “growth engine” for customer acquisition.
HSBC Bank USA is a subsidiary of London-based HSBC Group, which has $2.9 trillion of assets, and serves customers across Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa.
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