New Zealand Post’s RealMe moves a step closer to becoming a national identity service by snaring its first big bank: BNZ.
From later this month BNZ customers with RealMe accounts can open accounts without having to visit a bank branch with physical identity documents.
This is an important step. The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism legislation introduced last year means banks and other financial institutions have to check people’s identity more thoroughly and frequently than in the past. While that can be annoying for customers, it also imposes a burden on banks. RealMe makes the process easier, safer and, by extension, cheaper.
When RealMe launched in early 2013, the initial focus was on giving people a secure way of communicating online with government services. RealMe replaced the iGovt service.
TSB Bank and Kiwibank began using the service in August 2013. Westpac has previously said it is exploring the service.
To get an identity, people have to turn up in person at a Post Office with the proper personal documentation and have a photograph taken. From that point on, there’s no more paperwork.
That’s the other attraction for banks, it makes their business even more digital and further reduces the need for paper. Meanwhile, it gives New Zealand Post a foothold in the online world which has knocked the shine off its traditional business.
Eventually RealMe could extend its reach into more aspects of our lives. Voters can use the service to update electoral enrolment details online and The Electoral Amendment Bill will allow electors with a verified identity to enrol online.