by Zuzana Ziaranova, Tatra banka |

You take a photo of your ID card and a selfie. That should be everything you need for the facial recognition technology. We talked with Dušan Slimák, the project business owner at Tatra banka, about the idea, its transformation into reality and its security.

Since 2014, facial recognition has been used by your bank. What is it exactly and what has changed with the current solution?

The facial recognition system is a technology capable of identifying or verifying a person from a digital image for example. Our current solution is built on new technology that we have incorporated into our mobile banking. We are using the potential of smartphones, their high-quality cameras and screens. Thanks to this, we are able to give the user instant feedback on the right position, suitable lighting and the like.

Let’s try in simpler terms. What steps must a smartphone user take to become a Tatra banka client without having to visit a branch?

In brief – the client must download the Tatra banka app, take a photo of his/her ID card and a selfie, confirm that he/she is present by the phone and after the contractual matters are confirmed directly within the app, the client can start using the bank account. The new technology provides a very effective link between the mobile phone, the bank and the Ministry of Interior. Our goal was to simplify and completely automate the entire process.

Within a few minutes, a client has an active account that can be used via the mobile app. Our client can use the account to make transfers or ATM withdrawals with a mobile phone. In a few days the client receives a package delivered by courier with a debit card, the internet banking password and a paper contract for further electronic communication. The courier verifies the personal ID of the client by using the same technology. To avoid packing the card PIN with the payment card together, the client can check the card PIN in the mobile app.

Dušan Slimák, expert for Facial Recognition at Tatra banka

How do you protect the technology and user data?

In terms of security, we consider the new identification method to be at least as safe as identification at a branch. The communication is encrypted and is as secure as the hundreds of thousands of transactions made by users of the bank. Personal data, including the photos, do not leave the servers except for a secure online query to the Ministry of Interior of the SR.

Isn’t there a risk of a user’s identity being stolen? If users would, for example, use their photos from social media as many people do not protect their profiles and share their information.

In today’s era of social media, photos can virtually be deemed as public domain. The key element in the process is to verify the so-called “person’s liveness”. To make sure that there is a live person present by the mobile phone, the person must proceed according to randomly generated instructions. We have chosen “following a ball” with your eyes on the screen approach. We also tried “facial gymnastics” but this solution proved impractical. For example, there was an instruction “turn your head left” – but when we turned our head we could not see the next instruction on the mobile phone display.

What advantages does the technology have?

The new technology provides a very effective link between the mobile phone, the bank and the Ministry of Interior. Our goal was to simplify and completely automate the entire process. In addition to the process it is also the comfort. From the comfort of your home you can read all about the service of the bank and then decide. You can interrupt the process at any time and resume it whenever it is convenient for you.

 What are the future plans?

Opening an account using facial recognition is just the first step for us in digitalized service. After the pilot phase we also intend to offer a consumer loan. Users will have the option to check their income and liabilities online and to instantly withdraw a loan.