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London: Global Fintech Capital…yet it’s impossible to set up a bank account.

18 July 2019

Written by Roel Baars.

I have recently moved to London for work from the Netherlands. In the highly innovative, fintech capital of the world, I expected opening a bank account to be an easy process. I was prepared for London life to be expensive but I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to open a bank account to actually pay for something.

First, I tried to sign up for an account online. I was prompted to complete the process over the phone. After several minutes on hold, an agent asked me to come to the local branch with my ID and a copy of my housing contract, a very laborious method of proving my address and identity.

At the branch, the clerk asked me for a utility bill for proof of address, which I could not provide as I had not received one for my new apartment.

…I decided to open an account at another bank.

This online application prompted me to submit a UK phone number, to link my account to my device and act as a critical ‘something you have’ factor for repeat authentication. However… to get a UK phone number, one needs a UK bank account.

So, I called my utility provider and asked for a bill. After a few weeks, I received my bill and took it to the local branch of the first bank. Finally, after hours on the phone, in the bank branch and after weeks of waiting, I was able to sign up for a UK bank account.

The whole process was gruelling. In the Netherlands, signing up for a new bank account is far simpler! Banks such as ING and Rabobank have completely digitised their customer onboarding journeys by leveraging iProov’s authentication technology. With iProov, customers can easily and securely sign up for a bank account from their sofas.

To conclude, I’m going to try and set a meeting for both of these British banks.

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