Taking a selfie

Fintechs are digital beasts. Unless you’re a sticker-collecting, meetup-attending super fan, you’re unlikely to meet anyone from your favourite fintech face-to-face. Without a branch manager to look you up and down and give you a firm handshake, fintechs have opted for the ubiquitous selfie to prove your face looks like your ID. It’s usually a video selfie, often using 3rd party software, where you need to say certain words to camera or do a specific action. 

Here Atom Bank and Monzo go head to head. We’re going to look at the selfie taking instructions and experience while onboarding. Points to get it done with the least amount of fuss and cringeworthyness. Enable camera, let’s go.

Atom Bank
Apr 14, 2020
Personal banking

Atom Bank


Atom Bank

On the way to setting up an Atom Bank account, you need to set a 6-digit PIN, set up a FaceID and also record your voice 3 times (setting up VoiceID). This is to protect your account as you use a combination of these to log in. This biometric approach seems pretty high tech and secure. In this battle, we’re interested in the experience around talking a selfie so we’ll look at setting up FaceID.

There are simple instructional screens to swipe through which ask you to use the guides, use good lighting conditions, don’t wear glasses, and make sure it’s just you in the picture. All standard instructions, but needed to get a good result, I’m sure.

Hitting ’continue’ gives you the iOS hard prompt to enable camera. This is well placed in the journey, necessary, and contextual.

The actual selfie bit is very simple, but doesn’t give any real-time instructions or feedback, so I just hit the button and I’m done. Tick. Apparently ’Perfect’ (thanks Atom Bank).


Monzo’s selfie requires you to speak a few words to camera. This might seem like a strange request, but showing an example video (which you can unmute) is a sweet touch and beats trying to explain the process in words and pictograms. The example video is of Emma Northcott standing in front of her phone camera saying "Hi, my name is Emma Northcott and I want a Monzo account". Which is exactly what you've got to do, but with your name or your ’preferred name’. Generally speaking, my preferred name is Dogg. But a word of warning: Monzo will not let you open an account if your preferred name is Dogg. I learnt the hard way.

The text prompt and an audio waveform graphic are helpfully rendered over the video feed. Once recorded, you can listen back to your (beautiful) video and have the option of retaking it. Talking to camera and recording your voice feels awkward but if Emma Northcott can do it, so can you.

Here’s what I think
Monzo win this battle

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The art of the selfie. <a href="https://twitter.com/atom_bank?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@atom_bank</a> v <a href="https://twitter.com/monzo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@monzo</a>.<a href="https://t.co/OM2PsiNnXg">https://t.co/OM2PsiNnXg</a></p>&mdash; Fintech Battles™ (@fintechbattles) <a href="https://twitter.com/fintechbattles/status/1249972651029864449?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 14, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

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I'm a creative director working in fintech and Fintech Battles is a personal project. What you’re reading is my opinion which you may or may not agree with. I'm not paid to do this and I’m not endorsed by any company. I hope you find Fintech Battles useful and reasonably fun. I’d love to get feedback so please get in touch. My friend Dave told me I should write this disclaimer.

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