Sita to launch single-token biometric system at Malaysian airports as data sharing startup Zamna raises $5M
Sita will introduce a single-token biometric system for the full airport traveller journey at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in collaboration with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), The Edge Markets reports.
The system is part of the new Airports 4.0 initiative by MAHB, and uses facial biometrics to identify travelers at each touchpoint from booking to boarding. Luggage drop, primary and secondary security checks, immigration checks, duty free purchase, and boarding processes can all be carried out with facial recognition.
“I think for the passengers, the benefit is that it will be more convenient for them and it will help speed up their journey through the airport. It is about the convenience for the passengers, above all,” says Lee Yiang Ming, senior general manager, information technology of MAHB. “If you look at some of the manual processes that we have, especially during high peak times, it takes a bit of time to clear. So, with this technology they are able to register not only in the airport but also potentially through the smartphone application that we will enhance later on.”
The technology will initially be piloted with flights on Malaysian Airlines to Tokyo Narita International Airport and Osaka Kansai International Airport. Lee hopes to launch the system to all flights at the airport if the pilot, which will last three to six months, is successful.
One of the remaining challenges to single token systems is agreeing on a way to securely share identity data, including biometrics.
The funding round was led by LocalGlobe and Oxford Capital, with participation from Seedcamp, the London Co-Investment Fund (LCIF), Telefonica, and angel investors.
The platform is built on algorithms that check the accuracy of biometric data and Advanced Passenger Information without sharing it, by attaching a token to attest to the previous verification of the data. The validated tokens are stored on a blockchain network shared by airlines, airports, and governments.
The reason such a data-sharing technology is beneficial, Zamna CEO and Co-founder Irra Ariella Khi tells TechCrunch, is to allow the single-token to be used by the different stakeholders that carry out checks.
“There is no easy and secure way for airlines and government agencies to share or cross-reference your data — which remains siloed (for valid data protection reasons),” she says. “They must, therefore, repeat manual one-off data checks each time you travel.”
Zamna has its first commercial client, in existing investor IAG (International Airlines Group), and the company is a strategic partner of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), according to TechCrunch, participating actively in its One ID working group.