Are multi-modal biometrics the solution to blockchain’s private key-loss conundrum?

The potential of blockchain to enable internet users to exert control over their own online privacy and security, as well as to address many other problems, is well recognized. That potential comes with risks, however, not least of which is the risk of losing the private encryption key which gives the user access to his or her own data.

A recent article published by Computerworld suggests that biometric identity verification may be the most likely method of reclaiming private blockchain encryption keys in the future.

“It’s going to come down to a multitude of biometric devices. It could include a fingerprint scanner with a pulse detector, a retinal scanner and facial recognition all tied together,” Blockchain Intelligence Group CEO and Co-founder Lance Morginn told Computerworld. “We’re in discussions with number of different regulators around world.”

The owner of a lost key might go in person to a secure facility to pass a rigorous security check to have it restored.

Japanese regulators have altered the rules for cryptocurrency storage in the wake of several bitcoin thefts, the article points out, and blockchain identity networks providing KYC compliance have been launched. Blockchain identity-verification provider Civic issues passcodes to customers after verifying them with a fingerprint scan.

The ID2020 alliance, meanwhile, is attempting to leverage blockchain and biometrics in combination to provide a strong digital identity to the more than 1 billion people globally without one. Accenture focused on its ID2020 efforts in its recent Corporate Citizenship Report.

Ultimately, as Morginn points out, industry stakeholders and government regulators will need to come together on a standard for reclaiming lost private keys if blockchain is ever to move beyond the risk of users losing everything by losing a password.

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