Enable Digital Account Openings with ID Verification and E-Signature

Rahim Kaba,

We’ve all opened a new checking or savings account or applied for a loan. There are typically a large number of steps that are needed to complete the application process. Often, you need to dig up various forms to prove your identity, address, and income. It can be a long and frustrating experience. In the digital world, how do you deliver a seamless and secure account opening experience – one that ensures applicants do not abandon the process? 

As new competitors disrupt the financial services sector and raise the customer experience bar, banks know that they need to step up their game when designing their digital journeys for new customers. Today, many consumers want (and expect) the ability to open their accounts online or using their mobile device – without stepping foot inside the branch. This first touchpoint with the applicant can have a profound impact not only on the likelihood of converting them into a customer but also on their ongoing perceptions of and relationship with the bank. 

Modernize the Account Opening Process

Learn how pairing digital ID verification and e-signature transforms the account opening process into a secure, convenient omnichannel experience.

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Historically, applicants would need to take their ID documents to the bank branch for a banking representative to check the validity of those documents and make copies. The applicant would then need to apply a “wet” signature on the necessary account opening documents. Increasingly however, technology is being used to digitize and automate the account opening process to enable remote, unmediated channels. For example, document verification solutions can help ensure that ID documents such as driver’s licenses and passports are valid, while facial biometric verification can establish that the person presenting the ID is the same individual whose portrait appears on the document. In addition, many banks and credit unions are adopting e-signature technology across the enterprise to automate the secure delivery of documents for signature and capture a legally enforceable contract to strengthen their legal and compliance position.

Harnessing the Power of Mobile for Account Openings

Digital account opening is increasingly important to banks in response to changing consumer preferences. However, onboarding new customers presents two main challenges: 

1) Meeting adequate risk, fraud, and compliance requirements 

2) Ensuring a frictionless customer experience 

In the past, this was difficult for the mobile use case in particular, because remote account opening experiences still required in-person ID verification and forms were poorly rendered on small screen sizes. Recent advancements in software and hardware technology however have changed the playing field and now mobile is seen as a new engagement channel for banks of all sizes. 

In the U.S., the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was recently signed into law by President Trump and includes the “MOBILE Act” (Making Online Banking Initiation Legal and Easy), which enables financial institutions to digitally onboard new customers from a scan of the driver’s license or personal identification card. This form of remote digital account opening will reduce costs for banks and enhance the customer experience right from the start of the relationship. It also complies with strict Know Your Customer (KYC) rules. As a result, banking customers across the U.S. will be able to open new accounts without having to visit a branch. 

Banks can leverage digital identity verification solutions to verify applicants in real-time. There are many ways to carry out KYC checks during the account opening process. This often depends on the type of transaction and associated risk, geography and industry regulations. At its core, KYC ensures that the applicant is who they say they are and that they are not attempting to enter into an agreement illegally or fraudulently. Here’s a sample account opening workflow to illustrate how technology can help automate the account opening process.

Applicant's ID

STEP 1: Check that the applicant’s ID document is legitimate.

The applicant takes a photo of their ID document (e.g., driver’s license) using their mobile device. Document verification technology scans the ID and uses sophisticated algorithms to detect forgery and ensures the ID is authentic.

Liveness Detection

STEP 2: Check that the applicant is really who they say they are.

The applicant takes a “selfie”. This method compares the selfie against the image extracted from the ID document. Liveness detection technology is used to defeat hacker spoofing techniques. If the images match, the applicant can proceed with the application process. Additional KYC/AML screening can be incorporated using a configurable workflow that leverages third-party ID checks.


STEP 3: Pre-fill data from the ID document and enable the applicant to e-sign.

Data is automatically extracted from the ID document (e.g., name, date of birth, address, etc.), and alternatively from third-party data sources, and then pre-populated in the application form. This reduces the amount of manual data entry required by the applicant before the electronic signature is captured.

Top Digital Account Opening Requirements

With the availability of mobile devices and digital technologies, such as ID verification and e-signature, creating a secure, yet frictionless, customer experience is truly within reach.

Look for solutions that will enable your bank to:

  • Check the authenticity of government-issued ID documents (e.g., driver’s license, passport, etc.), especially for remote, unmediated applications
  • Verify the identity of the applicant using biometric (“selfie”) verification that ties the applicant to the photo on the ID document
  • Automate customer due diligence checks with third-party credit bureau providers to meet Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements
  • Pre-populate application fields with the applicant’s information and capture consent with e-signature
  • Capture comprehensive audit trails – from ID verification to signature – in a single evidence package
  • Offer an intuitive user experience – across all of your digital channels  

Digitizing the account opening process not only improves the customer experience, but can also substantially eliminate manual paper processing and application rework for your employees in the back office. 

The unmet need for digital and mobile account opening presents an opportunity for growth and to create long-lasting customer loyalty. Customers will appreciate the ability to engage with you anytime and anywhere, without having to use paper or visit the branch for in-person ID verification. The good news is that banks have the necessary tools to digitize and replace complex, paper-based account opening and KYC/AML processes using client-centric technology investments such as digital ID verification and e-signature. Learn about how OneSpan can help your bank make bold advances in your digital account opening initiatives and make every step in the digital customer journey seamless and secure. 

Rahim Kaba is a passionate and results-driven digital technology leader who has played a key role in advancing digitization initiatives at organizations around the world.