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Biometric payment card timelines move up, tech giants pause facial recognition sales to U.S. police

Biometric payment card timelines move up, tech giants pause facial recognition sales to U.S. police

Anticipation for mass market biometric credit and debit cards continues to build, with market conditions aligning and major announcements expected in the second half of the year. Broader adoption of facial recognition also seemed to be a major theme for the week in biometrics news, before the technology’s use by law enforcement in the U.S. hijacked the topic. If the changes announced this week are not accompanied by meaningful policy change, however, they are not likely to significantly impact the market.

Zwipe CEO Andre Løvestam and HSBC Group COO and CTO Ritesh Jain discussed the evolution of payment cards in the context of COVID-19 at a recent Group Futurista online conference. Biometric card prices are dropping rapidly, and with consumers wanting both reduced contact with shared services and more contactless payment security, the conditions for mass market launch seem to be aligning for both supply and demand. Commercialization could even be this year, according to Fingerprint Cards CEO Christian Fredrikson. Speaking during a Corporate Day presentation, Fredrikson said contactless payments growth is accelerating, which was echoed by the Zwipe Chief in a separate presentation for investors.

Facial recognition for smart city deployments was already taking off in Asia, but with the COVID-19 pandemic motivating pushes for projects from contact tracing to contactless payments, Japan is cutting red tape to speed up “Super City” implementations, and more announcements are expected from other countries. Making people use wearables for contact tracing seems less popular, based on reactions from Singapore.

The trend towards deploying facial biometrics to provide contactless payments is becoming more pronounced, with systems launched on three continents showing a few different ways the technology can be implemented. Spain is expected to soon have one of the largest networks of facial recognition-powered ATMs in the world.

The dialogue at various levels on establishing federal regulation for facial recognition in the U.S. seem to have taken on new urgency in light of widespread social unrest and calls for police reform, and one possibility recommended by a team of experts is a new agency modeled on the FDA. A white paper goes into some detail about the need for this body and what its purview would be, and may satisfy more parties than the prevailing approaches of doing nothing or enacting bans that immediately require revision.

As the U.S. moves towards a federal election in the fall, Politico has an extensive takedown of online voting, featuring interviews with Rice University Computer Science Professor Dan Wallach and election technology company Free & Fair’s Chief Scientist Joe Kiniry. According to the article, the many potential threats and impossibility of verifying tamper-free results in such an anonymous system pose an unacceptable risk to the democratic process.

IBM announced the sunset of its facial recognition service this week and questioned whether the technology should be used by law enforcement in a letter to members of Congress. While IBM is not as major a player in biometrics as in computing more generally, the company was followed by commitments from fellow tech giants Amazon and Microsoft just days later to avoid selling face biometrics to police in the U.S., at least temporarily. What effect the move will have on efforts at police reform or the enactment of federal facial recognition regulation remains to be seen.

A poll of 43 companies providing or using facial recognition technology by Vice, meanwhile, prompted responses from AnyVision, CyberLink, Innovatrics, Palantir, Trueface and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), while all others declined comment.

In an interview with New York Times reporter Shira Ovide for Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society, Google ethical artificial intelligence team leader Timnit Gebru says facial recognition should not be used by law enforcement at this time, and explains some of the nuances behind questions related to facial recognition and bias. The discussion ranges from the uses of AI in medical diagnosis to the role of body cameras in police reform.

Concerns about law enforcement using images shared over messaging services to identify people using facial recognition has prompted a new feature in messaging app Signal.

Facebook may yet end up in court over claims its photo-tagging feature violated Illinois biometric privacy law, or having to up its settlement from $550 million. At the same time, some of the details around BIPA liability are becoming more clearly defined through less bizarre cases.

Daon has signed up Denver International to develop solutions leveraging contactless biometrics throughout the airport. The industry can play a major role in restoring international travel, but Identity Strategy Partners Managing Director Janice Kephart has some pointed opinions about screening systems based on thermal imaging.

The four special publications that make up NIST’s controls and technical requirements for digital identity systems are up for review, and the agency is seeking comments. Behavioral biometrics and liveness are among the topics on which feedback is specifically sought.

The implementation of self sovereign identity through a World Wide Web protocol for identity is discussed in a reprint of highlights from GlobaliD Co-founder and CEO Greg Kidd’s keynote at startup conference Podim. He discusses how it works, how it relates to eID regulation and telecoms, and talks about stocking the fridge while Jack Dorsey created Twitter in the backyard. Zero trust plays a significant role in Kidd’s system, and may also in maintaining data security with biometrics in the smart cities of the new future, Idex Biometrics SVP David Orme writes for ITProPortal. The capability for fingerprint biometrics to work without relying on a shared database, as in biometric smart cards and other applications, provides a means of establishing trust without sharing extra personal information with the highly-networked environment.

Tuya Smart CMO Eva Na explores the application of the same principle to the IoT world in some depth in a Biometric Update guest post. Smart homes could receive a boost in the new normal, and Na suggests that both consumers and business could benefit from the development of consistent standards, as biometrics are used to authenticate identities in edge computing environments.

A guest post to Biometric Update from the IEC’s publication e-tech provides a fascinating look into biometrics standards through an interview with DIN Senior Project Manager Kristina Unverricht. A new ISO/IEC standard for biometric applications’ jurisdictional and societal considerations is on its way.

Ghana’s embattled Electoral Commission is facing renewed criticism for its biometric voter registration project after equipment stopped working during a pilot. The number of companies providing biometrics and digital identity services in Africa continue to grow, with some growing players based on the continent, a partnership bringing a new player into the space, and a multi-national placing new emphasis on serving African governments.

Elsewhere in the global South, HID Global Director of Sales for the ASEAN Region for Physical Access Control Systems Alex Tan urges smartphone users to use two-factor authentication with biometrics to secure sensitive accounts on their smartphones in a techENT podcast, and discusses the implications of facial recognition and other biometrics for Malaysia’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

In medicine, the benefits of biometric check-in processes in terms of accuracy of patient identification, and the minimal risk of virus transmission through palm vein scanners are explored this week by Imprivata Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sean Kelly in a blog post.

Microsoft has launched ION, a Bitcoin-based permissionless network for decentralized identity, which CoinDesk describes as one of many projects for accelerating COVID-19 responses by Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) members. Some highly critical views, including the claim that standing up identity systems is IBM and Microsoft’s “entire bottom line” are mixed with more optimistic takes on the project.

Protocol has a profile of Microsoft Information Risk Management Council Chairman Bret Arsenault outlining the insights he gained from early experimentations with digital art, race car driving, and 30 years spent with the tech giant. His belief in the replacement of passwords with biometrics, and why it is taking so long, are explored.

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