Being the 7th largest bank in Canada with a relatively smaller number of branches compared to bigger banks, HSBC Bank Canada (HSBC) had to be astute in its strategy to serve its customers. For the Bank, it has always been about giving customers the choice to bank using their most preferred channel. To ensure satisfaction for clients who choose digital as a channel, HSBC knew that it needed to create an online journey that facilitated a quick and easy completion of the application process without having to visit a branch. In particular, HSBC needed to improve the existing online verification process that was proving to be ineffective and inadequate in meeting today’s needs.
With this vision in mind, HSBC EasyID was launched. HSBC EasyID is an innovative solution for non-face-to-face identification for online account opening. It verifies a person’s identity through authenticity checks and facial recognition algorithms. What’s interesting is that the HSBC EasyID project was completed from start to finish all within 3 months, delivering a best-in-class digital identity and verification (ID&V) solution for new-to-bank customers.
At the recent Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards 2021 organised by The Digital Banker, HSBC Bank Canada was recognised for its excellence when it was declared Winner, Best Technology Implementation by a Retail Bank and Best Retail Bank for a Frictionless Banking Experience.
“Delivering this technology involved a huge undertaking that brought together a diverse group of cross-functional teams across the business, technology, and risk as a response to customer needs, heightened by the pandemic. Indeed, customer expectations and the evolving market conditions have fuelled the need for a better solution – and HSBC astonishingly delivered,” said Nirav Patel, Managing Director at The Digital Banker during the awards ceremony.
HSBC EasyID: Making Life Easier for Customers
As part of the transformation of its digital capabilities, HSBC has made significant enhancements to its online account opening capabilities. The key goals set forth by the team include:
- Build scale and extend reach within and outside of the branch footprint in order to support the Bank’s growth strategy
- Create frictionless, secure and fast journeys
- Support the customer’s channel of choice
The online journeys implemented were fast and easy to use for customers. However, in the majority of the cases, the customers were referred to HSBC’s branches to complete their applications. This is not aligned with the Bank’s vision.
The number one issue was electronic identification. The current methodology in use has a high failure rate for those customers trying to open an account with HSBC. Of those customers who were referred to the branch, only a handful were making the trip to a branch to complete the account opening procedure. This had to change.
In late 2019, Proceeds of Crime, Money Laundering Terrorist Financing (PCMLTF) was amended to allow for ‘authentic’ identification to be used for verification. Subsequently, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Canada’s financial intelligence unit, provided guidance on the implementation for using the “government-issued photo ID method”. Specifically, it provided that the authenticity of a document must be supported by technology.
HSBC took this moment as a signal to take the leap, which served as an impetus for HSBC EasyID.
HSBC EasyID is a robust solution to help verify customers with two things they would have on hand: an I.D. such as a government-issued driver’s licence or passport, and a selfie. It uses a facial recognition software to confirm that a selfie matches the ID photo. With more and more customers using digital platforms to bank with a financial institution, HSBC found a solution that allows new-to-bank customers to engage using the digital platform of their choice.
“HSBC EasyID is a robust solution to help verify customers with two things they would have on hand: an I.D. such as a government-issued driver’s licence or passport, and a selfie.”
There are a multitude of benefits to this solution. For one, the captured ID can support subsequent product opening in digital and other channels. Fraud control is also enhanced, thereby helping legitimate customers get through the process smoothly. And lastly, Canadian government issued driver’s licenses are acceptable and in fact, are most commonly used.
“HSBC EasyID has been an absolute game changer for new customers; it has dramatically improved onboarding times, reduced friction and improved the experience in opening new accounts while expanding our opportunity to a wider group of customers as location is no longer a barrier,” said Rick Kelln, Head of Direct Channels, HSBC Bank Canada.
HSBC Bank Canada is one of the first few organisations to implement this seamless technology. Working agile, the team delivered HSBC EasyID in 3 product journeys. It started in July 2020, when it was only offered on mobile. This was then followed by the ability to use HSBC EasyID in a full browser journey. Based on data and insights, additional customer experience enhancements were added to improve usability and reduce user errors. Finally, in January 2021, HSBC rolled out the remaining domestic journeys in both English and French for new-to-bank customers. In April of 2021, the team launched HSBC EasyID with its student and International Account Opening, allowing new-to-bank and existing-to-bank customers in countries outside of Canada to open an account prior to arriving in the country.
Accelerating Digital Sales Growth
HSBC EasyID has allowed the bank to offer a digital solution for account openings for customers who prefer to bank digitally or are unable to visit a branch. HSBC EasyID supports the Bank’s growth strategy and significantly improves the customer experience with more opportunities to save time for both customers and staff.
As such, the HSBC EasyID increased straight-through processing of digital applications by 70% and has reduced referrals to bank branches by 40%.
Moreover, HSBC EasyID has been a major contributor to the growth in digital sales at HSBC. With an aggressive 5-year plan, the Bank has built a team to continue to further enhance and refine digital account journeys with the goal to onboard customers smoothly and further increase its share of sales in the digital channel.