HSBC México bets on biometric digital solutions for security and simplicity

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Financial institution HSBC México has embarked on a quest to provide an array of digital products and services to simplify how customers interact with the bank. The group invested US$150mn in the development of digital solutions for Mexico, many of which will be offered to customers before the end of the year.

BNamericas spoke to HSBC México's head of digital strategy and innovation, Juan Carlos Espinosa, about the bank's digital strategy and how products and services encourage customers to use digital channels. According to Espinosa, biometric solutions in particular enhance customers' security, whilst providing simplified access to services.

BNamericas: What does HSBC México's digital strategy consist of?

Espinosa: Our digital strategy is a pillar in itself in the bank's general strategy, particularly in the retail and investment banking management segments.

Our digital strategy is part of an important objective, which seeks to transform our customer services, banking services, and product and service adoption through the use of digital channels. All of this is oriented towards increasing user confidence and simplifying daily procedures.

The last three years have been important for HSBC in terms of its global digital transformation and many initiatives have been consolidated in the second half of this year, with new products becoming a reality for our clients.

We have the task of using digital tools to bring our products closer to our customers in a simple, fast, and direct fashion. These digital products are meant to simplify user experiences.

Customers can open an account or request a credit card online or control their credit cards with an app. These are examples of how technology is being delivered to customers so that they can control their banking operations in a simple way. In our view, technology is the best way to achieve this.

BNamericas: What strategies has the bank implemented to foster the use of its digital services?

Espinosa: In order to bring our digital services closer to our clients, we deployed Wi-Fi networks in our branches so that clients can download our apps in our facilities without using data from their mobile plans.

Additionally, we signed an agreement with Mexico's main mobile operators allowing our users to download our apps without consuming data. In this case HSBC absorbs the costs.

BNamericas: What are some of the advantages users gain from using the bank's biometric solutions?

Espinosa: The first advantage comes from reinforcing our customers' security, and then there are aspects associated with convenience and simplicity.

Mexico issued a regulation that requires banks to validate customers' identities with fingerprints when opening an account or granting a loan. Banks must comply with this norm by September of next year and the industry is complying with the established deadlines.

However, we believe that in addition to increasing security and preventing identity theft, fingerprint recognition and voice and facial recognition technologies can help simplify registration processes.

These biometrics reduce the amount of passwords users have to memorize. That being said, these tools simplify access to our platforms but not their use.

We recently launched a voice recognition solution to access our customer response system and we're exploring different pilot programs to offer more biometric solutions in the coming months.

BNamericas: What mechanisms is the bank putting in place to ensure security in the use of its biometric solutions?

Espinosa: Firstly, we use proven technologies and suppliers that have demonstrated their ability to work with biometric solutions globally.

Secondly, as with the rest of our customers' personal information, we have high security standards regarding technology and processes, which allows biometric information to be kept safe, protected and confidential.

In terms of validating fingerprints, we crosscheck our information with databases from national electoral institute INE. The validated information is saved for subsequent procedures under high protection and confidentiality standards.

By being a biometric identity tool, digital fingerprints have a unique encryption and security level that prevents their use for malicious purposes.

BNamericas: How is HSBC interacting with the fintech ecosystem to improve its offerings?

Espinosa: The level of innovation and speed that external parties can achieve when developing solutions to address a specific user case can exceed the levels achieved by the industry itself.

Fintechs provide a fast way to find solutions with a different perspective. They can be thought of as a complementary model.

With this in mind, our commitment is to build ties to different fintech incubation hubs across the world. HSBC recently signed an agreement to sponsor the Startup Boot Camp Mexico accelerator program, where we collaborate with different entities that take part in the ecosystem. Our objective is to work alongside these entities and learn from them in order to find better solutions for our clients along the way.

Fintechs are something we do not want to avoid; on the contrary, partnering with them provides the solution to many specific business cases.