Biometrics adoption for touchless payments and pandemic recovery grows despite critical voices

Biometrics adoption for touchless payments and pandemic recovery grows despite critical voices

Biometric payments and facial recognition joined pandemic recovery among the common threads in the week’s top biometrics news. Digital health credentials are going into use, and biometrics for touchless payments and airport procedures are being deployed in order to keep people from professional hockey players to baristas safe at work.

Big league hockey is back in action with support from Clear’s facial biometrics-based digital health credential, which will be used to control access and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among players and staff, and a theatre production in London is restarting rehearsals using FRANKD, as the most widely-read article of the week on Biometric Update explains. Privacy International calls the whole concept of digital health credentials a “looming disaster.”

The latest wave of body temperature scanning systems developed to help business reopen safely bring the market to 170 different companies. ISS, ICTS-WebClock and Allsee have launched new technologies, while Digital Ally has received an order from a distributor, and deployments have been reported in Ohio and Columbia.

Airports in Brazil, the U.S. and UK have launched or looked into biometric technologies to support safe traveler journeys, and experts from Securiport, Amadeus, IATA and Innovatrics say adopting facial recognition will be important for the future of aviation.

Many facial recognition providers have suggested their technology accurately identifies people wearing masks, but even the top-performing algorithms tested by NIST had error rates of at least 5 percent in 1:1 matching, and some otherwise effective algorithms fared much worse. False positives were relatively stable, and NIST plans to evaluate newer algorithms with masked faces in the future.

A proposed ordinance to broadly ban facial recognition use proposed in Portland includes misinformation and an inaccurate definition of the biometric technology, according to a comment submitted by the IBIA. The definition is different than in the legislation that has been passed by other state or local governments, and the ban is significantly wider in scope.

NtechLab Head of R&D and Co-founder Artem Kukharenko tells Biometric Update in an interview that the reason his company’s facial recognition algorithms perform well with different demographics and in challenging situations is because of the thought and work it has put into solving the practical issues facing customers. He urges the industry to focus on real-world problems to deliver on the beneficial promise of biometrics.

The Stanford Daily takes a look at the university’s decision to remove the BrainWash database from its public online archives. Among points raised in the article is that because the data was taken from a public internet source, rather than collected directly by researchers from subjects, some privacy guidelines did not apply.

The use of facial recognition by U.S. retail chain Rite Aid is investigated by Reuters, which finds the company deployed the system more often to stores in poor areas or those with more ethnic minorities, and some loss prevention officers suggested it regularly misidentified people. The company had a DeepCam system implemented until recently, and had previously used FaceFirst, as far back as 2012.

Fingerprint Cards has been granted a patent for a hybrid capacitive and optical fingerprint sensor, which could perform one kind of scan in some situations, like low power mode, and the other to meet different requirements. The broad description suggests implementation in peripherals, notebook or desktop computers, or mobile devices.

A coffee shop in Romania has launched touchless biometric payments with facial recognition provided by PayByFace. The system is being offered in Bucharest during a three-month initial phase, during which the company will finetune it, but work on an international expansion has already begun.

UnionPay has launched 3DS authentication to its online payments business to support biometrics and other technologies. The company has already made inroads in Italy and believes it will reach 50 international payments organizations this year.

Biometrics, specifically facial recognition, are being rapidly adopted by banks to reduce fraud in authentication, but they must be implemented carefully to avoid a landscape increasingly littered with draconian regulations, David J. Oberly of Blank Rome LLP writes for CeFPro Magazine. Oberly reviews the legal landscape and several steps financial institutions can take to protect themselves from compliance risks and build customer trust.

The combination of biometrics and tokenization is gaining popularity in the cybersecurity field, and VeriTran VP of Digital Solutions Greynier Fuentes writes for Biometric Update in a guest post that it can be the answer to the dramatic spike in fraud experienced during the pandemic.

Unum ID Business Development Associate Katie Lu suggests in a guest post that a decentralized identity system would have prevented the hack that embarrassed Twitter in mid-July, with several of the platforms most popular accounts compromised at once. Decentralization prevents attacks from scaling the same way, and effectively neutralizes social engineering, Lu writes.

The guest post from Evernym on iRespond’s project to give privacy-preserving identity proof to stateless people with iris biometrics also continued to be widely-read this week.

Government officials in The Gambia and Kenya are seeking answers on national identity programs, while Vodocom lost three-quarters of a million subscribers when SIMs not registered with the owner’s biometrics were disconnected. On the more positive side, Liberia has developed a way to allow citizens to easily check their COVID-19 status, and Mauritius says its safe city facial recognition system is still functioning effectively with residents wearing masks.

A new post from Yoti Identity Fellow Paz Bernaldo explores some problematic aspects of Argentina’s Emergency Family Income Payment (IFE), which excludes those without a valid National Identity Card even as the payment helps others to meet their basic needs. The latest post from Identity Fellow Tshepo Magoma examines identity theft in South Africa’s Western Cape, where despite relatively high Smart ID Card adoption, fraudsters are taking advantage of lockdown restrictions. The high identity theft rates are leading some organizations to turn to biometrics to verify individuals’ identity where government documents are failing.

Both fellows note the expansion of digital identity as an outcome of COVID-19 relief efforts, and Yoti Head of Social Purpose Ken Banks writes for ICTworks about some of the specific new ways digital identities are helping organizations.

With wearables capable of collecting and transmitting biometric data like heartrate in real-time, and betting markets setting odds for any piece of sports data available, a pair of attorneys for Jenner & Block consider the possibility of betting on athlete biometrics for The Hollywood Reporter. Collective bargaining agreements and privacy laws differ depending on the league and jurisdiction, but commercial agreements involving biometric data have already been reached, so the complicated regulatory landscape may be navigable if enough money is involved.

The pandemic has increased surveillance by both governments and corporations, the Asia & The Pacific Policy Society writes. Leveraging data with proper checks and balances in place will require what the article calls “souveillance,” a French concept meaning roughly ‘surveillance from below.’

Please let us know if there is an article, podcast, opinion or video you would like to share with the biometrics industry and the broader digital identity community in the comments below or through social media.

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