Biometrics companies raise $303M in three funding rounds as fingerprint card market matures
The most widely read news of the week in the biometrics and digital ID industry has been a trio of successful funding rounds, even in the face of an unparalleled global economic shutdown. The continued development of the fingerprint payment card market, and of course more adaptation of technologies to coronavirus containment and recovery efforts also made up top headlines.
The $100-million funding round announced by Onfido was our top news story of the week. CEO Husayn Kassai wrote about the company’s momentum, its geographic expansion, and responding to a global public health crisis in an email to Biometric Update.
Major funding rounds were also announced by Chinese voice recognition provider AISpeech, which raised $58 million, and BioCatch, which raked in $145 million in a Series C round it plans to use to scale its behavioral biometrics business.
Fingerprint payment cards have reached the point where it is time to bring card manufacturers, bank executives, and yes even consumers on side with roll-out programs, and the ICMA and Fingerprint Cards make cases that it is an easy sell all around this week.
Facial recognition payments are growing in popularity, meanwhile, and Korea’s Shinhan Card has launched a service to a range of retailers in a Hanyang University campus in Seoul already. The deployment is reported to be the first in the country, but the company has plans to take it national.
Whether implemented in the infrastructure edge or delivered as a cloud service, biometrics are expected to see major growth for the foreseeable future, with the former nearing $2.3 billion and the latter reaching $3 billion by 2025, according to a pair of market research reports.
Data protection and bank apps are prominent among industries news in Africa this week, along with the popularity of biometrics for fraud prevention. Companies from overseas but also increasingly from across the continent seem to be stepping up to meet the demand.
Governments continue to leverage biometrics to deliver services and track COVID-19 infections while serious concerns are being raised by rights advocates and felt by the public. Measures that are understandable during a crisis may be difficult to roll back when the crisis passes, and investments in systems like public facial recognition could easily be repurposed for less popular uses. In the online world, digital KYC is seeing a major increase in demand, and the FATF has published guidelines for remote onboarding while still maintaining anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing standards. Digital identity companies are stepping up to help online education, dating, gaming, and crypto services in India and other markets onboard customers and secure transactions with video KYC.
Liechtenstein has taken the step of introducing biometric bracelets to track the spread of COVID-19, beginning with a pilot for 1 in 20 people. Swiss company Ava is providing the wearable, which will collect data such as temperature, breathing and heart rate with consent.
While “immunity passports” for people to be able to prove eligibility for actions restricted to limit the spread of COVID-19 are a popular idea in some quarters, the implementation of such an idea “is filled with devilish details,” according to an editorial in The Korea Times. Establishing the individual’s identity with a high degree of trust, which could involve biometrics, is just the first barrier that would have to be addressed. Part of the takeaway is that digital identity should now be thought of as critical public infrastructure. One of the main questions is around how such a system could be implemented without destroying the foundations of personal privacy. A group of 60 organizations have banded together to try to come up with a model of an “immunity passport” based on self-sovereign identity (SSI), Coindesk reports. Evernym, Streetcred, Georgetown University, South Africa’s DIDx and Pakistan’s TrustNet are among organizations working on the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative (CCI), using W3C’s Verifiable Credentials standard.
The UK’s NHS is adopting Yoti’s digital ID card solution to verify the identity of healthcare workers to speed up online and in-person workflows. User details are secured with encryption and biometrics, and shared without contact through an app.
Broadsuite Media Group CEO Daniel Newman makes the case for digital transformation as a positive force amid COVID-19 responses in a Forbes contributor piece. Companies have made advances in areas like robotics and natural language processing enabling new ways of delivering healthcare and other services, or suddenly pivoted to manufacturing completely different products, and both are only possible because those organizations have embraced digital transformation. The surges in robotics and remote work are also among nine changes Interesting Engineering sees as part of the new normal, after the lockdowns end. Facial recognition gets a mention in the section on “under-the-skin” surveillance.
Cortica subsidiary Corsight has repurposed its facial recognition for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to identify healthcare professionals wearing face masks. The company plans to offer its core technology through global partners for a variety of applications such as access control or time and attendance tracking.
With a Legislative Council election looming in September, Hong Kong should think ahead and put remote voting, either by mail or e-voting, in place, according to an editorial for the South China Morning Post. The technology for online elections is not yet ready, however, according to Thales Trusted Cyber Technologies CTO Brent Hanson, writing for GCN. Several major barriers stand in the way of their readiness, he argues, and mobile applications, which Hanson calls “the ‘easy button,’” cannot be locked down with assured authentication.
The potential for biometrics to solve the prevalent patient-matching problems in healthcare IT is discussed by experts from Accenture and Pew in a HIMSS20 Digital session. As Healthcare IT News summarizes, the executives talk about the three use cases for patient identification and matching, and present the three major lessons based on its experience for healthcare organizations to apply.
Featured interviews this week on Biometric Update include a discussion on the World Privacy Forum’s new report on data privacy in U.S. schools, “Without Consent” with the group’s Founder and Executive Director Pam Dixon. The report includes a key section on children’s biometrics, which a legal loophole may be allowing companies to exploit.
Experian Head of Global Identity and Fraud Product Innovation Mike Gross says that layering biometrics and other technologies is the way to bridge the gap between the recognition businesses offer and recognition consumers want, to improve service convenience and personalization while preventing fraud.
A new cloud service offering biometrics-backed identity verification on a self-sovereign identity (SSI) model with key-splitting has been launched by Nomidio. The company’s Head of Worldwide Sales Ben Todd explains the concept, along with how biometrics providers can provide their technology through the service in an email interview.
Smart Engines CEO Vladimir V. Arlazarov writes in a guest post that while ID verification and facial recognition seem like a natural approach to solving remote identification challenges, careless implementations can create risk through storage or transfer of sensitive personal information.
Former Accenture Digital Global Managing Director and ForgeRock CEO Mike Ellis is working in a new role the largest intelligent buildings company in the world, Johnson Controls, created for him, Forbes writes in a profile and interview this week. The company has an established track record for using AI, IoT, edge-based technologies and other digital innovations to power efficiency and sustainability for buildings, and positive customer experiences for the people who own and use them.
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