Biometrics companies serving the Global South and a new ID2020 partner step up as world market changes
The week’s top headlines in biometrics and digital ID are largely split between two different market dynamics. Work towards extending responsible and effective ID systems in the developing world continues with a major new ID2020 member and companies based in Africa increasing market competition. A Malaysian company may soon seize a large share of that country’s government biometric market, as well. Meanwhile, biometrics companies in the developed world may have their hands full meeting domestic demand, with broad changes creating opportunities to help save lives as society emerges from lockdowns.
For the second week in a row, Mastercard is the subject of Biometric Update’s top story, with the increasingly-digital ID-focused payment network joining the ID2020 Alliance to support the push for user-managed, privacy-protected digital identity. The company’s President of Cyber and Intelligence Solutions Ajay Bhalla contributed a guest post last week on the evolution of biometrics as it promotes a white paper on moving beyond passwords.
Something of a milestone is reflected in our weekly wrap of digital ID and biometrics news from across Africa, as a trio of companies based in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa make headlines for fraud-fighting partnerships and offerings to serve local markets. Along with branch offices being opened by multi-nationals to leverage local talent, they may be early signs that the capacity-building so many people across Africa have worked towards is bearing fruit. Those interested to know more about what identity authorities on the continent are doing to adjust to COVID-19 and the “new normal” can register for ID4Africa’s webinar coming up next week with a panel of seven experts from African governments.
Ahead of a webinar panel discussion this week, Goode Intelligence shared several insights into the impact of the pandemic on the biometrics market. The operations of factories in Asia, and some significantly altered timelines, and the need to make sure new processes brought in as emergency measures do not violate people’s rights, or the law. The market’s continued strength is seen in the stock of Malaysia’s Datasonic Group, which is rumored to be in the running for several government biometrics contracts, and Precise Biometrics CEO Stefan K. Persson’s assessment of his company’s position. Nuance, Synaptics, Fingerprint Cards, Idex and Goodix were other publicly traded biometrics providers making announcements this week.
One group of companies facing market turbulence ahead are several Chinese facial recognition providers which have been added to a restricted list by the U.S. government. Cloudwalk, SenseNets, Intellifusion, NetPosa and IS’Vision were added to the list, which already included several leading facial recognition companies, and several responded that they follow the rules of the countries they operate in. Some analysts made the dubious claim that the move would hurt the U.S. as much as or more than anyone else.
On the positive side of the market, companies supplying technologies for enterprises and other workplaces continue to roll out offerings with facial recognition and fever detection to help support safe re-openings. Oaro, Hyper Networks, In-Depth Camera and InReality are among the latest to launch new solutions. NEC has also launched a terminal for facial and iris biometric authentication to support touchless payments and access control. The company says the system is ideal for settings requiring high-precision authentication where people are wearing masks and gloves.
Mitek VP and Global Head of Products and Corporate Development Sanjay Gupta argues in a guest post that increased exposure to biometric technology due to the pandemic will ultimately lead more people to adopt the technology for its convenience and security benefits.
As technologies for COVID-19 recovery are considered, a pair of U.S. Senators are asking for details about Clear’s Health Pass. The same two Senators introduced proposed legislation to regulate facial recognition earlier in the year, and it is there, more than on data protection in general, that their questions are focused.
The new enterprise perimeter, which extends to every remote worker’s house, was examined in a panel discussion hosted by Palo Alto Networks written up by CIO Dive. An increase in weekly cyberattacks against North Dakota of more than four times followed that state moving to remote work and school. NIST National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence Director Jeff Greene says employees should at least be able to rate how risky the information they share on digital communications platforms is.
The enterprise network perimeter is not the only part of the cybersecurity landscape that has adjusted to COVID-19, and Trend Micro has a report on the shifts in the dark web. Stolen accounts and credentials still make up the largest category of offerings in underground digital markets, but fake news and propaganda tools have increased, and “access-as-a-service” are on the rise, but there is currently no dominant, stable marketplace due in large part to the good work of law enforcement.
The potential for digital signatures to help people and companies handle the digital processes and transactions people now rely on is discussed in a blog post by Signicat Product Manager Jon Ølnes. Like many other technologies associated with digital transformation, the lagging adoption of e-signing may be changed by the pandemic.
Equifax has added Hooyu’s ID doc and selfie biometrics to its portfolio of identity and fraud prevention tools. The partnership boosts onboarding for Experian customers with smoother experiences and more robust anti-fraud and anti-money laundering controls.
Google Assistant users may soon be able to make purchases secured with voice recognition. The feature is in testing, and limited to Google Play purchases and restaurant orders, but a voice-powered service that processes payments is obviously worth a lot more than one than hands off to a third-party when the wallet comes out.
A pair of attorneys from Blank Rome survey the conditions and suggest best practices for companies implementing fingerprint time and attendance systems for Law.com. On the legal ground they are surely safe, though their claims about the three major challenges or risks associated with fingerprint biometrics could be debated, as stolen fingerprint templates, lower-security smartphone sensors and spoofs are not known to be behind many, if any recent successful attacks in the wild.
For all of the talk in media about biometric spoofing, the only instances of fingerprint spoofing seen recently are proof of concept and cooperative spoofs, according to a blog post from Fingerprint Cards System Design Engineer Eric Setterberg. While still technically feasible, biometric spoofs are much more difficult, and therefore less likely, than attacks against systems secured with other means, such as passwords, he argues.
Integrated Biometrics EVP of Global Sales and Marketing David Gerulski points out that people are not actually going to stop touching all surfaces in public, and argues that with best practices in place, contact fingerprint biometrics will continue to be used for the same high-security applications as they are now.
Center for Data Innovation Senior Policy Analyst Eline Chivot believes the push for COVID-19 apps in Europe has struck a blow against GDPR and digital sovereignty, and sets out her argument in European Views. Chivot details the emergence and decline of the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing platform (PEPP-PT) as a way to ensure that contact-tracing apps meet the EU’s data protection standards.
The app provided by WorldReach, InnoValor and iProov for the UK Home Office’s EU citizen immigration processes has, by contrast, been a huge success, according to an editorial for Think Digital Partners. The remote identity verification service is based on WorldReach’s Know Your Traveller platform, and by a range of measures, is in stark contrast with many government IT projects.
Chooch AI CEO and Co-founder Emrah Gultekin discusses how the company’s platform helps build computer vision systems end-to-end, using containerization to run applications at the edge, and why the company offers facial authentication but not biometric facial identification in an interview with unite.ai.
Hats off to Yoti’s three Digital Identity Fellows for the first episode of their new “Numbered Humans” podcast. The researchers split just over 20 minutes and discuss issues related to infrastructure inequality, the relationship between “online identity” and “digital identity,” and the broad spectrum of users who think of digital ID differently based on their social status, among others. The discussion on education reveals a striking similarity affecting digital identity around the world.
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