Nationwide Building Society streamlines digital onboarding through API

Building society is improving its digital onboarding process through application programming interface-based technology from a US startup

Nationwide Building Society is using application programming interface (API) technology to automate checks on customer identities when they apply for membership and make transactions.

With the use of branches in decline, hastened by the Covid-19 pandemic, Nationwide is investing in its online onboarding process.

The API, from startup Jumio, uses technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to check that documents used by customers opening accounts are genuine.

The building society said the technology “seamlessly integrates with existing workflows” and, through an API, can check whether applicants are who they say they are. “This allows Nationwide to make an informed decision about the applicant based on a variety of powerful fraud signals,” it added.

Jumio’s technology also verifies the age of Nationwide’s youngest members by extracting personal information, such as date of birth, from a wide variety of government-issued IDs. 

The California-based company’s software provides onboarding that complies will know your customer, anti-money laundering and GDPR regulations.

Demand for online financial services has soared during the pandemic, with customers often adopting mobile and online banking for the first time. Banks and building societies have to offer remote online application processes, which means checks on ID documentation must be automated through technology.

Read more about digital initiatives at UK building societies

Online applications are notorious for customers dropping off the system during the process, but Nationwide said it had already increased conversion rates with the new technology, with more people completing the application process.

“With Jumio, we are able to provide an end-to-end digital process for the majority of our customers,” said Carlo Mascia, delivery lead at Nationwide. “The time it takes to open an account has been dramatically reduced, but the customer experience is the greatest win.” 

The pandemic and the associated lockdowns, which saw finance firms close their physical presences, reaffirmed the importance of automated online processes for customers to apply for services.

Many challenger banks and mortgage lenders are digital-only or at least digital-first, with customers completing the entire identification process through apps.

Building societies often have an older customer base who have not traditionally demanded digital services. But the pandemic has changed that and, like banks, they now need to digitise processes across the organisation to keep pace with the digital-first challengers in their sector.

Customers who use digital services are quickly hooked by the ease of use and speed of service that apps provide. While discussing its digital transformation in October 2021, Darlington Building Society told Computer Weekly that its research had revealed that all customers, even those aged over 65, preferred mobile app first, website second and branch third.

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