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Biometrics 2015: A Q&A with Biometrics Institute CEO Isabelle Moeller


The Biometrics Institute is carefully planning the upcoming Biometrics 2015: Secure Identity Solutions Now!, held October 13 – 15 at the QEII Centre in Westminster, London.

With a number of panel discussions, debates, and networking opportunities planned throughout the event, this year’s conference boasts a lineup of 75 speakers who will share practical advice, tips and solutions for using biometric technology for managing identity and increasing efficiency within government and commercial applications.

Although the year is far from over, the Biometrics Institute has already had a successful year, having recently reached a membership of 182 organizations and over 650 individuals from around the world.

In addition, the organization continues to consult with the biometrics industry over its initiative, Biometrics Institute Trust Mark, and it is currently reviewing its Privacy Guideline, a guide for members that define best-practice which may vary from legislation in some countries.

BiometricUpdate.com had the opportunity to discuss Biometrics 2015, the main challenges facing the industry, and the public’s evolving attitudes toward biometrics with the Biometrics Institute’s CEO Isabelle Moeller, who also serves as the conference chairperson for this year’s event.

What are some pressing issues that the Biometrics Institute are currently tackling?

Isabelle Moeller: The Biometrics Institute recently issued the results of its 2015 industry survey: responses from members and other key stakeholders from around the world identified the current and significant issues around privacy and data protection and the need to build consumer trust in biometrics is at a critical stage in the adoption of biometrics. The Biometrics Institute has put these issues at the top of their agenda and continues to work on the development of an industry Trust Mark, with the aim of giving consumers confidence in the responsible use of an identity product or services. Creating consumer trust in why their biometric information is being collected and how it is handled, stored and potentially deleted is essential for the success of this industry.

What would you say are the biggest changes in the public’s attitudes towards biometric technologies compared to last year?

As biometrics move more mainstream there are several growth areas that put biometrics at the heart of the consumer experience, for example travel, mobile payments and consumer electronics. As outlined in our survey, public understanding and acceptance of the use of biometric technology to increase efficiency and prevent fraud is dependent upon building consumer trust. It seems as though there is still some way to go in achieving this. Fifty-eight percent of those responding highlighted privacy and data as the main issue constraining more widespread adoption of biometrics, followed by misinformation and poor knowledge of biometrics amongst decision makers. These top three issues were similar amongst responders from all geographical areas.

Taking a quick glance at the session tracks planned for Biometrics 2015, it seems as though the conference will cover all areas of biometric applications. What area would you say is the most in demand, right now?

Results from the Industry Survey highlighted that mobile payments (rather than accessing mobile devices) are seen as the most significant development in biometrics over the last 12 months. This increasing demand in consumer electronics to enhance customer experience is expected to drive the biometrics technology market over the next six years (source: Biometrics Technology Market Analysis by Application, by End-Use and Segment Forecasts to 2020 / Grand View Research).

Over the past five years, we have seen a shift in the anticipated major growth areas from biometrics at the borders (in 2011), through an anticipated adoption of biometrics in everyday life to its use in mobile payments and online customer authentication (2015). The 2015 survey indicated that the main expected future implementations/uses of biometrics are in financial services and border control/immigration/visas.

Consequently, the conference includes a whole day with two parallel streams to address these specific issues: one focusing on identities at the borders and the other looking at customer authentication in financial services.

What major biometric issues and key speakers can attendees expect to be included at Biometrics 2015?

In compiling the program for Biometrics 2015 we have very much looked to address the key issues, as mentioned earlier. How do we provide secure customer authentication, build consumer confidence and what are the data protection and privacy issues associated with this? This topic very much heads up the 2015 program with plenary talks by leading speakers in the area including Andrea Servida of The European Commission on their digital agenda, electronic identification and trust services and Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor on protection of privacy and personal data. Data retention in law enforcement is another key topic with talks by Alastair MacGregor, UK Biometrics Commissioner and Meagan Mirza of the Information Commissioner’s Office among others.

A dedicated session on privacy on day one of the conference welcomes stakeholders from all sides to give their perspective in what promises to be a lives and interactive debate session. Additional breakout sessions over the following days look at developments in the key vertical markets for biometrics: both traditional markets such as law enforcement, border control and travel and developing markets such as consumer applications, including mobile payments.

The border control and travel tracks include a review of preliminary findings from the Smart Borders pilot from Krum Garkov, Executive Director at EU-Lisa and a look at the use of biometrics to counter migrant smuggling by Florian Forster, Head, Immigration and Border Management at the International Organization for Migration. An additional track is dedicated to the use of biometrics in developing countries with Samia Malhem of the World Bank leading the discussion with a keynote address on programs on digital ID for development.

On the consumer side we welcome Jonathan Vaux, Executive Director of New Digital Payments and Strategy at Visa Europe to give his perspective on secure customer authentication using biometrics. This is followed by one of many discussion sessions as Poppy Trowbridge, Consumer Affairs Journalist at Sky TV News moderates a panel session on balancing security and convenience for the consumer with a focus on the electronic payments.

The third day addresses the hot topic of biometric vulnerabilities. Members of the Biometrics Institute Vulnerability Assessment Expert Group (BVAEG) including Prof Matsumoto from Japan, who had developed the fake fingerprint attack and the Chaos Computer Club from Germany who had conducted the iPhone 5 attack in 2013 will be take part in a further debate/discussion session.

In all, more than 75 speakers and panellists will take part in the three day program which promises delegates a lively and interactive look at the use of biometrics in identity management in a wide range of applications. There is a strong emphasis on research and innovation with talks from international research institutes and selected vendors on the very latest technical developments.

Biometrics 2014 was well-attended, signalling a growth in not only the conference, but the industry at large. What kind of numbers are you expecting at Biometrics 2015 in terms of delegates, exhibitors and speakers?

Biometrics 2014 saw a reenergized conference with nearly 300 participants and significantly enhanced levels of industry engagement and end user participation. We anticipate that Biometrics 2015 will attract similar levels of delegates from the academic, government, industry and end user sectors to share insight and stimulate further discussion. The co-located exhibition has seen a shift towards new companies entering the marketplace – including increased representation from Asia and we look forward to welcoming these new vendors to Biometrics 2015.

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