Face biometrics makes headlines from regulation and conferences to company fundraising and deployments

Face biometrics makes headlines from regulation and conferences to company fundraising and deployments

Biometric facial recognition and digital identity in Africa, both separately and the possible convergence between the two, are the main themes in Biometric Update’s top news of the week. A major facial recognition funding round, a call for action on demographic differentials, biometrics for financial services onboarding and airports, and a fingerprint payment cards deal made up other widely-read stories.

Several experts explored initiatives in Canada to support interoperable digital identity and open banking on a recent OneSpan webcast covered in one of Biometric Update’s top stories of the week. Meanwhile in Germany, biometrics and other technologies are allowing banks to shift towards “next-generation client onboarding,” but banks in Nigeria are struggling to onboard customers digitally. India’s financial services regulator has approved the use of biometric video KYC for stock traders amid a raft of announcements related to biometric selfie and ID document checks. New customers, capabilities, supported countries and integrations have been announced by Onfido, Mitek, TruNarrative, ubble, Trulioo and Experian.

Airport biometrics projects involving NEC, Vision-Box and Collins Aerospace show the steadily increasing activity to try to revive consumer confidence in flying and resuscitate the aviation industry. CBP’s Biometric Exit has been launched at LAX, and Spirit Airlines claims to be first in the country to allow domestic travelers to check in with facial recognition.

A think tank has recommended Zambia’s government implement biometric controls to reduce theft in the public sector, and Zimbabwe’s use of biometrics to reduce fraud in its public sector payroll has begun paying off. And in West Africa, Togo’s government has approved a national biometric digital ID scheme, which is expected to launch in 2021.

The digital economy is becoming a significant driver of growth in several African countries, but poor internet coverage and low digital ID adoption are limiting factors, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of UNECA Dr. Vera Songwe writes for the UN Conference on Trade and Development. More governments need to invest strategically in developing digital infrastructure and skills, according to Songwe.

While digital ID can sometimes help crack down on corruption, corruption can also hinder digital ID adoption and use, as Yoti Identity Fellow Tshepo Magoma writes in a Biometric Update guest post. The frequency and severity of fraud in South Africa affects identity systems, in turn hindering the ability of those systems to combat the problem, Magoma writes.

During the latest ID4Africa webinar, focussed on facial recognition, Executive Chairman Dr. Joseph Atick called on Facebook to use its unique position of holding billions of images of people from around the world to work with NIST to determine if demographic differentials in facial biometric performance can possibly be eliminated. The webinar also featured presentations from SITA, Tech5, Innovatrics, and Veridos on different use cases, and a panel discussion with Africa Digital Rights’ Hub ED Teki Akuetteh Falconer and World Privacy Forum ED Pam Dixon on the rights implications of the technology.

AnyVision has raised $43 million in new funding to scale its biometric access control and remote authentication business, soon after COO Alex Zilberman was interviewed by Biometric Update. The company sees major growth potential in serving the corporate real estate, financial services, manufacturing and hospitality industries.

The fall event season is beginning, with several major organizations preparing to hold online gatherings to discuss issues around facial recognition. The Biometrics Institute’s annual Congress runs through most of October, Women in Identity is discussing demographic differentials in a webinar with NIST expert Mei Ngan next week, and NIST will hold its International Face Performance Conference 2020 in late October.

A competition for iris biometric liveness detection added some criteria to make the challenge more difficult. Three contestants entered algorithms in the fourth running of the Presentation Attack Detection benchmarking initiative, though major players in iris recognition appear not to have participated.

The FBI began piloting iris recognition in 2013, and the capability is about to reach operation, as CJIS expert Scott Rago discussed during the recent Federal Identity Virtual Collaboration event. Other agency biometrics projects include detecting altered fingerprints and capturing palm prints and fingerprints together.

Between engagement with regulators and moving its upcoming Research Projects Conference online, the EAB is very busy, and CEO Jean Salomon discusses the latest with Biometric Update in an email interview. EU and Spanish data protection authorities have responded positively to the EAB’s feedback on a recent position paper on facial recognition.

Bob Sullivan hosts a video conversation with Kashmir Hill, the New York Times journalist who broke the Clearview AI story earlier this year, and a follow-up thread, about what role, if any, facial recognition technologies should have in law enforcement, and what can be done to protect privacy and prevent abuses of the tool. From transparency of processes to the accountability of law enforcement institutions, several interesting and thorny points are raised.

Amazon’s opposition to the facial recognition bans passed by Portland, Oregon’s City Council this week is well known. The opposition of the Portland Business Alliance and the Technology Association of Oregon on grounds that it is “harmfully too broad,” as reported by GeekWire, have not been as publicized. The groups, as well as others like the Oregon Banker’s Association are hoping for future changes like language that allows for opt-in applications of the technology.

The march towards commercialization and ultimately mass adoption of fingerprint payment cards took another step with Idex Biometrics receiving its first volume production order of TrustedBio sensors from a Tier 1 card manufacturer. The deal is intended to supply a card available for financial institutions before the end of this year.

New BioRugged CEO Arnd Langguth appears in a company video to discuss his experience in making technology work for customers, the evolution of biometrics to a trusted technology, and the need to have the building blocks for custom solutions in place before engaging in a new project.

DHS Science & Technology profiles its Transportation Security Laboratory, and its development of tools for testing and training algorithms used in security screening. The TSL will work with Rowan University, NIST and the TSA as part of a larger plan to make sure its AI and machine learning algorithms for commercial aviation and other areas are effective.

Please let us know of any articles, opinions or other content you would like to share with the biometrics industry and broader digital identity community in the comments below or through social media.

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