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18 Jan 2018

Open a bank account with a selfie: Metro Bank launches online application

New range of digital-only current accounts have now been released

Metro Bank has launched a new current account which can be opened online without having to go into a branch. But how does it compare to other online banking offerings?

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A new range of current accounts from Metro Bank allow you to open the account via an online application - complete with a selfie.

Which? explains how the new online offering works, and how it compares to other innovative account providers.

How does the Metro Bank online application work?

You can open the account with any device - be it a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer - as long as it has a camera.

There are a few things you'll need to hand while you apply, including your current email address, mobile number, a photo ID, and your address history for the past three years. You also need to be a UK, EU or Swiss national and over 18.

The real difference is authenticating your identity. You upload a photo of your photo ID and signature, and then taking a selfie. This will be compared to your photo ID by both an automated service and a real person while you continue to the next stage of the application.

You'll be asked to give permission for a soft credit check - this looks at your credit data but won't affect your credit score. If this is successful you'll move on to approve the Ts&Cs and a hard check. If you are not approved after the soft check, you will have to go into branch.

How do I use the account?

Once you're set up, the account is ready to use - you'll be registered with internet banking and receive your account number and sort code details, so you can use the online banking app.

As for the actual card, you'll either have to wait two working days for your card to be delivered, or you can go into a branch and pick it up.

What are the advantages of digital banking?

The main advantage is that you no longer have to go into a Metro Bank branch to open a new account. This means that anyone who can't get to a branch - most of which are located around the south east of England - can now use Metro Bank's services.

It also means you can open the account from pretty much anywhere you like (your home, a coffee shop, in the pub, etc) at whatever time is convenient for you.

How does Metro Bank compare to other online banking services?

With this move, Metro Bank follows several challenger apps offering online-only services.

The likes of Monzo, Monese and Starling Bank ask new users to record a short video of themselves as part of the setup process.

With these newcomer services, all banking is conducted through their apps.They are all full service current accounts - but currently don't offer other banking services, such as mortgages or personal loans.

With Monzo, you can set budgets within your spending categories; Monese offers a UK account without needing a UK address or credit history, offering fast and cheap transfers abroad; and Starling Bank even offers an overdraft, pays interest on your funds and can be connected to Apple Pay, Android Pay and Fitbit Pay.

Metro Bank's app is, at the moment, just for online banking - it doesn't offer analysis or budgeting like some competitors. You also have to apply via the website, rather than on the app.

But Metro Bank still has branches, which the mobile-only banks don't - and when a mobile bankhas technical issues or scheduled maintenance, you may not have access to your money.

For many people, the option of having a face-to-face conversation with someone in-branch often can't be replicated by a chatbot or by email - particularly if you have a problem with your phone.

Another advantage to having a Metro Bank current account is being able tomake purchases and cash withdrawals without any charges when travelling in Europe. Take a look at how other debit card providers fare when travelling abroad.

Open Banking

This announcement comes days after the launch of Open Banking, an initiative which aims to bring greater transparency and innovation across the industry by instructing banks to share their customers' banking data (if you give them permission to do so).

Metro Bank is planning on allowing its customers to share their account data with other authorised providers from March 2018.

You can find out more about sharing your data in our guide to Open Banking.