Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank took an innovative step this month in the Middle Eastern FinTech scene, partnering with the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Interior to enable instant account opening with biometric identity verification.
The partnership enables ADIB to access the Ministry’s Facial Recognition verification system. End users who wish to open a new account will be asked to submit a selfie photo through the ADIB mobile app, with facial recognition technology used to perform biometric matching against the MOI’s database.
The new system reflects the growing popularity of such selfie-based onboarding systems in the financial services sector, with a number of banks having embraced this approach around the world. But whereas most selfie onboarding systems are designed to simply match an end user’s selfie photo to their image on an official identity document, ADIB’s goes a step further by matching end user’s against a government database.
Users are also asked to tap their Emirates ID card on the mobile device being used during the onboarding process, so that the device’s NFC reader can retrieve data from the smart ID card’s embedded chip.
It’s a pioneering effort for the bank, but also indicates the UAE government’s growing interest in digital and biometric innovation. Earlier this year saw the launch of the UAE Pass, a digital ID aimed at enabling citizens to access government services, with facial recognition being employed to verify the user’s identity.
Commenting on the ADIB development, UAE Ministry of Interior official Lt. Colonel Dr. Ahmed Saeed Al Shamsi explained that the collaboration was part of an effort to “enhance the digital agenda of the UAE,” adding, “This is in line with Ministry of Interior’s efforts to enhance the efficiency of services, as well as support UAE banks in strengthening the security and safety of their digital services against threats of cybercrime.”
As for ADIB, the bank previously demonstrated its interest in FinTech innovation this past spring, when it announced a partnership with Visa aimed at enabling biometric transactions in the country via the Visa Consumer Authentication Service, which was designed to let consumers use smartphone biometrics to authorize sensitive online transactions.