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Biometrics embraced by major payment networks as contactless fingerprints put to the test by NIST

Biometrics embraced by major payment networks as contactless fingerprints put to the test by NIST

The enthusiasm with which two of the world’s largest payment networks are embracing biometrics stands out in another blockbuster news week for the biometrics industry. A $250 million funding round, a major payment network approval, a white paper specifically about biometrics from one of the largest companies in the world, a NIST report, and ideas for making air travel safe and comfortable again with facial recognition made up some of the top stories.

A Biometric Update guest post by Ajay Bhalla, Mastercard’s president of cyber and intelligence solutions presents the evolution of biometrics in terms of expanding applications, emerging modalities, and their emerging role beyond transactions. The company has produced a white paper tracing the evolution from legacy knowledge-based methods of identity verification to potential biometrics of the future.

One of the new biometric technologies Bhalla notes is contactless fingerprinting, which a new NIST report says can perform with promising accuracy when matching multiple fingers. With one finger, NIST’s results suggest the technology has a long way to go toward viability.

Also in payments, a fingerprint payment card with technology provided by Idex Biometrics has been granted a Letter of Approval by China UnionPay, paving the way for the cards to be issued commercially in one of the world’s largest payment card markets. A Feitian-made card with Idex biometrics has also been approved by the Chinese payments giant. The contactless payment market is forecast to increase by 110 million units this year alone, in one of several recent market reports calling for growth in different market areas. More contactless cards may ultimately mean more fingerprint payment cards, and facial recognition for surveillance, temperate screening, 3D facial recognition, and biometrics for healthcare and automobiles are all expected to grow rapidly for the foreseeable future.

Another reason for industry optimism comes from the $250 million funding round announced recently by CloudWalk, ahead of a planned IPO. Facial recognition companies in China are generally reported to be enjoying tailwinds, though that was prior to the latest announcement of Entity List additions, which includes CloudWalk.

Chinese wearables-maker Huami has come up with a new concept for a transparent mask similar to an N95 covering, which allows the wearer to unlock a smartphone with facial recognition, and even cleans itself. The Amazfit Aeri is currently in prototyping, CNet reports.

The evolution of iFlytek from an idea to work around the difficulty of typing in the Mandarin dialect to speech recognition and personal assistant provider valued at $10.8 billion despite being included on the U.S. Entity List is detailed in a Wired profile. The company combines a smooth user experience with surveillance practices alleged to be among the most extensive of any business in the world.

IBIA’s latest podcast features a conversation between a Thales executive and CBP Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner John Wagner on how biometrics can help civil aviation recover from its near-collapse as borders and homes around the world locked down. Wagner shares insights on how CBP’s Biometric Entry/Exit process evolved, and the little-known privacy controls built into the system. A decentralized biometrics platform developed by uqudo and iLabs Technologies with Tech5 facial recognition to support aviation’s re-opening made a strong showing at a European Commission-backed hackathon, and the companies detailed the project, which is open source- and open standards-based, to Biometric Update in an email.

A study from RAND explores how facial recognition systems can mitigate privacy and bias risks to help inform DHS programs using face biometrics, like Biometric Entry/Exit. Rigorous user protocols and consideration of the composition of training data are recommended, along with areas for future study.

Thailand’s digital ID system is rife with abuse and misuse, including the use of biometrics to profile Malay Muslims, according to an article from Global Voices, in partnership with The Engine Room. The passage of a digital ID bill in the country last year introduced biometrics to the country’s smart National ID cards, and trust between the military-dominated government in the Buddhist-majority country and Muslims in the country’s South was already low.

Biometrics news from Africa this week includes Snedai’s new digital-only office in Côte d’Ivoire, biometric registration of an influx of refugees in Niger, and biometrics for bank account verification in Nigeria, pension confirmation in Malawi, and a new regional head for Idemia East Africa.

The final interview in our series on the disruption to the biometrics industry from the COVID-19 pandemic is a discussion with Alan Goode of Goode Intelligence, touching on fingerprint scanners, digital ID’s big step, and new verticals adopting the technology. Many of the same market trends are accelerating, which gives biometrics providers a rare opportunity to help companies all around the global economy help themselves. The impact of forced changes to the biometrics market are examined in a blog post by TypingDNA. With some applications, like Face ID, essentially reverting back to the authentication methods of 2000, interest in contactless alternatives like voice and typing biometrics could be in for a boost, the post argues.

The concept of Social Cybersecurity is introduced in a post to CISO Mag this week by Kean University Center for Cybersecurity Director Stan Mierzwa. The concept is that cybersecurity behavior lags behind even public awareness of sound practice, and social influence can help improve those behaviors, including the adoption of biometrics and multi-factor authentication, and not falling prey to phishing and other attacks. If people will not be convinced to adopt sound cybersecurity practices, perhaps one can hit a “moonshot” with the support of a recently proposed piece of legislation in the U.S. Nextgov reports that The Cyber Leap Act of 2020, recently introduced by a bipartisan group of senators, would set up competitions with cash prizes for innovations that would raise the cybersecurity bar.

In an interview on the ForgeRock blog BBC’s Director of Platform talks about the efficiency of work-from-home arrangements and offering viewers personalized services to improve their experience, which comes with scalability challenges.

What does ‘digital identity’ mean? The latest field diary entry from Yoti Digital Identity Fellow Paz Bernaldo examines the question with reference to Bernaldo’s own original research and to some of the considerations in the literature. Identity itself is a thorny concept, and while digital identity seems simpler in some ways, such as function, it may be even more fluid and dynamic that the baseline or holistic version.

The efforts by technology companies, including FaceFirst and Onfido, to win a hypothetical immunity credential market in the U.S. and UK is reported by Forbes. Concerns held by the ACLU and others about the civil liberties implications of such systems are also considered.

Please let us know about articles, blog posts, or other content that the biometric and digital ID communities should check out, in the comments below, on social media or in an email.

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