Account Opening

Having had feedback from people I know in my personal life, I have learnt that a few people I have referred to open accounts with places such as Starling, N26, Yondacard and Hyperjar, Fidor Bank turn people down when they simply are unable to provide ID in the form of Drivers License or Passports ! This is the thing whilst most people do have them! Not everyone does !
So do any of you think that Mobile App based banks are perhaps being somewhat unfair to potential customers? Obviously I know in my own experience I have had times in standard high street banks of them being flexible over ID due to bring loads of stuff in !

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I think the priority should be preventing fraud and this helps with that.

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But it places an unfair obstacle in the path of those who don’t drive, don’t travel abroad or can not afford to purchase these documents purely for identification purposes.

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How do you identify yourself if you have neither?

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what do you want to do though? Let me take out a Wonga loan in your name?

But nah I get what you mean - I opened my RBS account without inputting a photo anywhere earlier :thinking:

So if RBS (and HSBC, actually) thinks it’s complying with KYC/AML then I’m sure Starling et al could follow

AFAIK you never needed photo id for wonga…

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I can see why online banks need ID to open accounts. Not sure what the alternative is for you don’t have the relevant ID. I guess bank branches opening online you can pop in and hand non photo ID in.

There are many banks that take other forms of ID.

These new banks cater to a certain group of people. There’s nothing unfair about that.

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New banks are more restrictive when it comes to account opening out of choice, in Italy for example, a lot don’t have passports or driving licences, so you show your identity card and then have to go on cam and speak a sentence, there is no address validation, because its just not normal for people to be able to prove address. In the UK they do it the other way round, they do address validation first then depending on that depends on what ID with nearly all the new banks wanting a driving licence or passport, that isn’t the law, that’s a choice.

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This comes up every few weeks, doesn’t it?

Fact is, as you rightly pointed out, that plenty of banks already allow fully online account opening without photo id, without any sign of increased fraud as a result. So it’s not only legal, its also a solved problem.

If newer online only banks don’t want to do that, they are obviously entirely entitled to it, but they could adapt any of those processes, if they wanted to.


There’s a good point here.

Banks were heavily lent on to ensure at the very least a basic account would be available to every one, regardless of social status, economic background. One of the main problems encountered were that banks make it hard to apply due to the identification requirement which some are unable to follow.

As a country we do not have ID cards, a passport is a travel document, a driving licence is for those who intend to drive. People who do not travel or drive - or have been unable to afford those actually quite expensive documents therefore are at a disadvantage.

I wonder if there are other ways in which this can be done?

In Poland, it is a requirement to prove your identity in order to take out a mobile SIM. You can do this in branch (not much use in this example for Monzo/Starling), or you can show a proof of ID to a postal worker (though I assume that’s a bad translation that means at the ‘Post Office’).

There’s a question for Monzo here: ‘If you want to make “money work for everyone™” - How do you make it work for those least likely to have had the need to obtain an unaffordable passport/driving licence’


I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t meet any of the requirements to open a basic bank account unless they were here illegally.

Banks can accept a whole host of documents

And in the rare chance you don’t meet any of those it’s not an exhaustive list.

The likes of monzo and starling are the exception rather than the rule. Everyone else is pretty flexible on the requirements.

The only thing I can think of is perhaps a homeless person who’s lost all of their documents, but you can get those documents back, and even Lloyd’s have a program for homeless people to get an account in parts of the country.


My point is that the high street banks found a way (and good on them)… the digital banks should now too.

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There’s no doubt the new banks put in barriers to open an account, despite being open to all, they are in fact not.

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You are making an incorrect assumption. There are many people less fortunate and less wealthy that have always lived here and are without a passport or driving licence.

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You don’t need a passport or driving license to open a bank account. If you have a look at the link above you can see an non exhaustive list of accepted documents.

The fact that monzo and starling don’t accept other documents is not an indication of the norm. They are the exception.

There’s also nothing wrong with that. Monzo and startling have their target audience, for others there’s dozens of banks to choose from.


This is where one of them could make the genius move of getting the Post Office to do it for them. They do ‘Check and Send’ for passports etc, so it’s not in the realms of fantasy to expect them to do this sort of thing, and while I’m sure there are many reasons why it would be very difficult to make happen for all manner of bureaucratic and cost reasons, it’s the sort of thing that if it can be overcome could be a real game-changer. Monzo at least should have been all-over this with their promise to make banking accessible for all.

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Italy do checks in the post office and you can pay a courier to check you match your ID when they deliver the card to your house.

Getting a sim card in Italy requires ID as well, so does getting a phone line etc, so they have many ways to verify you.

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Hmmm. It’s not what Monzo purports to be. :thinking:

Let’s see it for what it is. This start up has subcontracted ID verification to a third party that can only accept certain types of identification.

The lack of a branch network removes the opportunity for potential customers to prove ID in other ways.

This, in turn, disenfranchises those people that don’t have the correct documents.

Monzo (and others) have adopted a path of least resistance in order to aid the flow of sign ups but the consequence is that it excludes some people.

For example, my parents, now both retired. Neither has travelled in a few years and passports (they’ve had passports for most of their lives) have now expired. Both have surrendered their driving licences.

It’s a big assumption to make that it’s only immigrants this affects. Or only poor people.

I think this is where Monzo falls down sometimes. It claims to be diverse and inclusive but it isn’t. It’s a bank designed for people like them.

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Just to add to that, my mum has only ever had an Italian ID card, no need for anything else, it allows travel between the UK and Italy. That is not acceptable to Monzo or Starling, but is to every other bank, shes had different accounts over the years, and none have ever had an issue with it. She qualifies for a UK passport, but no need to have one, because her Italian ID card works fine. Plus her ID card is free, compared to paying for a passport, she doesn’t like wasting money.