With the new system, the customer blinks into their camera using the ‘selfie mode’. Their identity is then checked against a photo held on a database. If the pictures match, and the customer enters the correct passcode into their banking app, they can transfer up to RMB50,000 ($7,600) a day.
Previously, they had to use a token device for authenticating and making transfers. China is the first country where HSBC is using facial recognition technology in this way.
HSBC has been active in implementing biometric techniques for customer authentication. In February last year the bank announced plans to roll out voice recognition and Touch ID for 15 million UK customers, and in September previewed the introduction of facial recognition to speed up onboarding for new business clients.
The latest move comes on the back of recent research commissioned by the bank which indicates that people in Asia are more likely than those in Europe and North America to have confidence in new technologies. More than 60% of Chinese people believe that biometrics, such as facial or fingerprint recognition, will be the only way to access banking services within 10 years, the Trust in Technology report found.
“We believe there is a huge growth opportunity, stemming from Chinese consumers’ enthusiasm for new technology,” says Richard Li, EVP and head of retail banking and wealth management, HSBC China. “Investing in digital banking is one of our priorities to ensure we continue to provide the services people want and expect from us.”
Ant Financial, the banking subsidiary of local e-commerce giant Alibaba, is also experimenting with the technology, introducing a pilot programme to test the technology as a means of authentication for customers picking up packages at smart courier drop off boxes. It has also implemented a consumer credit service that allows users to check their accounts and file taxes by scanning their faces, and as a means of payment at KFC fast food stores via the Alipay mobile app.