Lloyds Bank group is enabling customers to upload copies of documents used for identification through technology used in social media, reducing the need to visit a branch.
Customers and prospective clients of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland can from February 2015 upload documents for identification and verification purposes with smartphones, tablets and computers that have cameras. The service will use software used in social media.
The electronic identification and verification checks will be rolled out to customers next week. Initially it will be made available to customers who want to add someone to an existing account, but later all customers using any current account applications will be able to use it, as will savings and credit card customers.
Lloyds Banking Group digital director, Miguel-Ángel Rodríguez-Sola said the development will make it easier for people to change banks. “The industry wide current account switch service (seven day switching service) has already demonstrated a positive effect on switching in UK banking, and we believe this use of digital electronic identification technology can have an additional beneficial impact.”
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But recent Payments Council figures revealed the number of people that changed their current account in 2014 was higher than in 2013 – but less than the number that switched in 2012, before the seven-day switching service was made available.
The lack of differentiation between what banks offer continues to limit switching, but this could change with a raft of new finance firms entering the UK retail banking sector.
The ability to send identification documents from remote locations will become increasingly important as banks close branches.
Last week the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said it will close another 99 branches after being “taken aback” by the pace at which customers are moving to digital services.
“We are seeing a revolution in the way our customers want to bank,” Moray McDonald told the committee.
Banks will need to find new ways of servicing customers in locations that do not have branches. For example, Barclays has given some staff – known as community bankers – with iPads, so they can recreate a virtual branch from anywhere with an internet connection.