Biometrics offerings for keeping people safe at work and making payments jostle for market position

LG CNS face biometrics payments

Anticipation for broad deployments of biometrics for contactless work processes is exceeded only by excitement for the commercialization of fingerprint payment cards, with Idex Biometrics in particular continuing to make headlines with announcements and messaging. Earnings reports, product releases, funding and acquisitions, and developments from around the world indicate an opportunity for the biometrics industry to help humanity find a way forward in a new worldwide social environment.

A strong consensus has emerged that contactless cards are going to be a major growth area in payments, and fingerprint biometrics are going to secure them. Zwipe, Idex and SmartMetric all made statements in different forms this week expressing optimism for the market, though companies like Ukranian startup Riddletag are also rolling out facial recognition technology as another contactless option. How exactly the rollout of biometric payment cards will work has been somewhat opaque, in part due to the largely unknown process by which technology is approved in the payments sector. Idex has an explanation of Feitian’s recent approval by China UnionPay with biometrics from the Norwegian company, detailing some of the criteria and process.

Idex was also prominent among a number of publicly traded biometrics providers reporting a mix of gains and optimism, raising over $10 million to fund growth opportunities. Ping is planning to raise funds, Next is looking to turn a corner, NEC and Nuance had strong quarters, SuperCom’s spot on the Nasdaq is secure again, GSI sees opportunity and Ipsidy is working to close deals.

Where do our fingerprint go when we die? More to the point being made by Dark Reading this week, what happens to the accounts they secure? The article points out that individual privacy may be valued more than continuity, but otherwise, business accounts should be set up for decommissioning when an employee leaves, however they happen to go.

In a potential major step forward for African ID systems, the West Africa Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion (WURI) Program has brought four new countries on board, while software engineers have leveraged biometrics to support charitable giving to relieve economic conditions under lockdown in Nigeria.

ForgeRock SVP of Global Business and Corporate Development Ben Goodman writes in a Biometric Update guest post this week about the relationship between biometrics and passwordless authentication. The identity and access management requirements of remote working make that point particularly pertinent, and Acceptto CEO Shahrokh Shahidzadeh offers some guidance for companies investing in upgraded IAM capabilities in another guest post.

The past of identity may be passwords, but future is self sovereign-identity (SSI) and decentralized digital identity (DDID), Idaptive Chief Product Officer Archit Lohokare argues in a guest post providing a brief history of identity. Two days after the perspective was published, Idaptive was picked up by CyberArk for $70 million.

Many companies have launched facial recognition and fever detection access control systems since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but few if any with as many active customers as NEC. The new NeoFace Thermal Express solution combines NIST FRVT-leading algorithms, thermal analytics, and a scalable, modular platform for high-volume people-screening.

Aviation may be one of the hardest hit industries, but airports and their biometrics partners are already considering how to get back off the ground. A touchless technology partnership for Elenium, a report from Sita, and a trial of facial recognition and fever detection by Heathrow are the latest signs of the industry’s re-emergence.

Contactless facial recognition and thermal detection are also being offered by new joint venture startup EllipTech, Vsblty and PopID to help get people safely back to work. Their focuses on custom solutions, smart buildings, and foodservices respectively will be important in a suddenly-crowded market.

Face detection systems are going through a forced evolution to support widespread mask recognition, but this application is often only practical with a decentralized processing model, Luana Pascu writes for Edge Industry Review. From smartphone checks for uber drivers to mass transit in Paris, on-device detection is being rapidly rolled out to enforce mask-wearing policies.

Several hospitals in Israel are using AnyVision’s mask detection technology to ensure compliance with the country’s mask-wearing rules and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, local outlet Globes reports. The system includes a display screen to provide visual reminders for people detected without masks, and can be set to deliver more forceful warnings, like audio cues. AnyVision is not only applying its technology for detection of masks and elevated body temperature, the company is also applying its computer vision capabilities to detect COVID-19 cells, and appears to have made promising progress towards developing a rapid and accurate test.

The combination of identification needs with distancing or capacity requirements may present the opportunity 3D technologies need to show their effectiveness, Orbbec Co-founder David Chen tells Biometric Update in an interview.

Clear is also looking to support safe work return efforts, but from the digital ID angle, with a smartphone app leveraging biometrics. The immunity passport developed by Onfido has been integrated with Sidehide to provide health status with digital ID for the travel industry.

The pandemic is giving new impetus to everything remote, but U.S. Election Assistance Commission and DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are warning that electronic ballot technologies are high-risk, despite the controls available, and Wired shares opinions from several cybersecurity experts that even though the technology does not appear to have suffered any breaches yet, they represent a significant hacking risk.

9to5Mac EU Editor Ben Lovejoy says that although he is a privacy advocate, and believes in end-to-end encryption and limits to government access. He also argues in a new opinion piece that voices like Human Rights Watch and other advocating against the use of contact tracing apps leveraging the Apple/Google API are imagining a privacy risk that does not exist, due to the eight privacy safeguards built in, starting with optional participation. Lovejoy also takes on the German government’s displeasure with Apple checking people’s temperatures on their way into stores.

Civil registration activities, including birth registration, should be considered “essential services,” as stateless persons are at risk of being left out of government responses to the novel coronavirus, UNHCR warns. The refugee agency has a number of recommendations to minimize the risk of people being denied legal status, and to include all people in containment and response efforts, regardless of their citizenship or legal residence status.

The use of contact fingerprint biometrics in Aadhaar, and the displacement of people suddenly without jobs during the pandemic has exacerbated a mounting series of problems leading to exclusion from government services in India, Yoti digital identity fellow Subhashish Panigrahi reports in his latest entry. While Kerala suspended the use of Aadhaar biometrics early in the pandemic to avoid viral transmission and exclusion, people continue to be rejected in various parts of the country, amid a backdrop of economic difficulty and religious strife.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is looking into contracting contactless employee screening with infrared fever detection gear for as it plans to reopen a pair of facilities in Washington State, according to NextGov. The solicitation, which also includes staff to operate the equipment, opens June 1.

Francis Dodsworth, a senior lecturer in criminology at the UK’s University of Kingston, warns CNN that the sudden ubiquity of masks could create an opportunity for criminals. The article refers to the challenge masks pose to facial recognition, but the way people interact with each other may also be altered.

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