Facial recognition in UAE: Now, open a bank account with a selfie


Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Abu Dhabi - The service is the first of its kind in the UAE.


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Mon 2 Aug 2021, 1:16 PM

Last updated: Mon 2 Aug 2021, 5:10 PM

UAE citizens and residents can now open a bank account by taking a selfie from the comforts of their home — with the entire process completed in less than five minutes.

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), in line with the UAE government’s vision in promoting digital services, on Monday announced opening of accounts remotely and digitally.


>> UAE: 9 out of 10 residents prefer digital banking to visiting physical branches

Through the Ministry of Interior’s facial recognition verification system, ADIB became the first bank in the UAE to perform instant and highly secure verification before opening a new account.

A customer needs to download the ADIB mobile banking app, which is linked to the ministry’s database and allows for a seamless verification process.

“Together with the ministry, we are enabling for the first time in the UAE, residents to open an instant digital account in a secure and seamless way,” said Sameh Awadallah, head of ADIB’s branch network.

The Face Recognition System has been developed by the ministry and identifies an individual against the ministry’s data, one’s Emirates ID, passport and face.

“The use of facial recognition system is a key step for ADIB towards the implementation of emerging technologies based on artificial intelligence,” Awadallah added.

This initiative boosts the digital agenda of the UAE, said Lt-Col Dr Ahmed Saeed Al Shamsi, head of the artificial intelligence systems and services development team at the general directorate of security support of the Ministry of Interior.

“This is in line with the 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. We look forward to building more impactful services with the financial sector and beyond, to bring greater convenience to UAE residents,” he said.

Earlier this year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, approved a facial recognition technology to verify the identity of individuals instead of submitting a lot of documents.

Lt-Col Al Shamsi underlined that the ministry, in accordance with the directives of the UAE Cabinet, is cooperating with all government institutions and ministries and the private sector in developing services based on facial recognition technology.

“This aims at facilitating customer procedures and enhancing the quality of digital life in UAE society,” he said.

Philip King, global head for retail banking at ADIB, said there are plans to expand the solution to other banking channels.


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“This is a convenient and secure platform. The ADIB banking app is linked to the Ministry of Interior’s database instantly. It enhances security against fraud and other forms of identity theft. We have plans to progressively extend this to other banking services and channels as we go forward.”

How to open your account in just 5 minutes

To open an account, citizens and residents must download the ADIB mobile app.

> First, enter a registered mobile number, followed by the one-time password (OTP), which will be sent to the mobile phone.

> Then, scan the front and back of your Emirates ID. Tap the Emirates ID card on the back of the mobile to read the card data from the built-in chip using Near Field Communication (NFC).

> Next, scan the first page of the passport. Residents will need to scan the visa page too.

> Take a selfie. You will need to turn your face left or right for a liveness check. Your face is then matched against the ministry’s facial recognition system instantly.

> Employed persons will need to enter a few employment details and upload a salary certificate as proof of employment.

> Now, select the account you wish to open and the name to be featured on the card. Enter your email address, select the nearest branch and sign terms and conditions.

> Upon successful matching, ADIB will send an SMS-OTP again for final verification.

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