Opening a bank account? Just scan your face

This article is more than 12 months old

Bank account holders can now scan their faces on their phones to apply for an online banking account with the launch yesterday of a national facial identification service.

Called SingPass Face Verification, the service matches captured facial images against the Government's biometric database.

This national database contains the facial images and identities of four million local residents aged 15 years and above, captured through applications for passports and NRICs.

Its use has so far been limited to official purposes, including verification at border checkpoints and in some government buildings to limit access rights.

With SingPass Face Verification, private-sector organisations can now tap the nation's digital identity infrastructure to securely verify online transactions without needing to build their own systems.

DBS Bank is the first private-sector entity to pilot the service, which is integrated into its digibank app.

For a start, its customers can choose to scan their faces - instead of entering their ATM, credit or debit card number and a corresponding PIN - to sign up for an online banking account.

Users need to download the latest version of the bank's digibank app, rolled out yesterday, to access the new feature.

In the coming months, new customers may also be able to scan their faces remotely to verify who they are without having to upload pictures of their NRIC or show up in person to, say, open a bank account.

Mr Jeremy Soo, head of Consumer Banking Group (Singapore) at DBS Bank, said: "Together with GovTech (Government Technology Agency), we aim to support those who are journeying into digital banking for the first time and to help foster resilient digital habits that will last for years to come."

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative, announced the service in Parliament in February this year.

People here are already scanning their faces or fingerprints on their phones to access e-government services via the SingPass Mobile app, which was launched in 2018 and now has 1.6 million users.

Private-sector firms like insurer NTUC Income are also using the SingPass Mobile app to secure access to their e-services. SingPass Face Verification takes the mobile service forward by matching captured facial images against the biometric database.

This step makes it easier to verify high-risk online transactions, including those involving cashier's orders of more than $10,000, said experts.