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Better biometric credentials deployment discussed at ID4Africa’s ‘Marathon of Innovations’

Better biometric credentials deployment discussed at ID4Africa’s ‘Marathon of Innovations’

The Marathon of Innovations webinar series organized by ID4Africa continued on Wednesday December 9, with a number of presentations during which guest speakers talked extensively about how governments in Africa and across the world can better deploy biometric credentials and digital ID systems in order to meet specific use needs for their populations.

Day 2 of the series had two symposiums and sessions of the Innovation World Tour, with the two symposiums dedicated to examining different aspects related to mobile digital ID and biometric platforms, derived identities as well as the future of secure credentials. The first symposium for the day was moderated by Emmanuel K. Brown, an ID4Africa Ambassador and top official at Ghana’s National Identification Authority.

Speakers at the symposiums were from various major players in the biometrics and digital identity industries.

Pierre Lelievre, senior vice president for digital ID, public security and identity at Idemia was guest speaker of the day’s first symposium – the third of the multi-day event.

Trust, a key factor in digital ID adoption

Taking on the theme ‘national digital ID program to pilot efficient public policies,’ Lelierve noted that egovernment is gaining ground across the globe, and for Africa to be able to achieve more economic growth, it would be advisable for governments to embrace and employ digital identity solutions for various case uses such as remote onboarding, remote authentication, attribute sharing as well as e-contracting.

Lelievre said Idemia’s digital ID vision underlines its commitment to preserving what he called “the root of trust,” meaning that they work on digital ID systems that are either derived from a public biometrics record system or from state-issued ID documents. He said they were working to help governments design digital ID systems that are based on secure and quality government-issued documents.

In the course of his presentation, the Idemia official cited the case of India, which introduced the Aadhaar program about 10 years ago, highlighting some of the useful lessons that can be learnt from its implementation.

He noted, among some of the key results achieved so far, the program has been adopted by 95 percent of Indians, and it functions based on three biometric features including facial image, iris identification and fingerprint. “The Aadhaar program gave the country the possibility to successfully pilot its economic activities in certain sectors such as agriculture. It was a tremendous platform to help the country go through the COVID-19 crisis…” Lelievre said.

Reiterating the issue of trust, Lelievre mentioned some of the points that must be factored in by governments as they adopt digital ID as a vehicle to pilot public policies geared toward transformational projects. He buttressed his point, asserting that that “…there won’t be any real digital transformation without trust.” Apart from trust, he cited other factors such as security, inclusivity, effective communication and transparency, and the streamlining of processes.

Lelievre concluded by explaining some of the strides Idemia has achieved in the civil ID market space. He said the company has, in the last six decades, helped governments around the world in establishing secure identity documents for their citizens.

Other presentations in this part of the webinar included the topics of mobile ID as a disruptive form of secure credentialing, by Rahul Parthe, co-founder and chief technology officer of Tech5; establishing identity uniqueness by Mark Joynes, products and solutions marketing director of Entrust; and the future challenges of mobile identification and verification by Lutz Richter, head of information systems at Muehlbauer.

What future for physical mobile credentials?

The second symposium of the day, moderated by Professor Abderrazak Henni of Algeria’s Justice Ministry, featured product manager in charge of ID at IN Groupe, Phillipe Jung, as its keynote speaker.

Jung spoke on ‘the future of the digital credential in a mobile and de-materialized world’, in which he painted a picture of how the future of the physical credential could look like and how an inclusive easy-to-use and a secure ID is now made possible thanks to a new generation of identity cards and mobile phones.

He talked about the importance of having a legal identity in both the physical and digital worlds, underscoring the purposes of digital identification.

He emphasized the importance of government digital identity initiatives and cited some of the benefits that they have for citizens, saying digital ID saves time on certain business and government transactions, ensures security and privacy of personal data or sensitive information, and guarantees service availability.

Jung also explained the benefits of digital identity to governments, private companies and business entities, and went ahead to list security, inclusion, privacy and ease of use, as some of the key pillars to any digital identity initiative.

He said IN Groupe provides a modular and comprehensive solution for digital identity, which is secure and private by design, and allows for full digitization of transactions.

Jung concluded by disclosing that an outstanding digital identity project in Europe has been entrusted to IN Groupe, and the project is set to start early next year. He said it involves a digital identity card conceived to cover the entire spectrum of identity management both in the physical and digital worlds.

Another speaker during this symposium was Fabrice Jogand-Coulomb, a digital services expert at HID Global, who made a presentation on ‘considerations for a valuable mobile identity app.’

The presentation was principally about what to be cognizant of when choosing a mobile ID app, and what benefits such apps can bring to the user. Jogand-Coulomb said among the things to consider for an identity app are its use cases, level of acceptance, interoperability, as well as innovation.

According to the HID Global expert, users should also check that such apps have the required ISO Standards certification for ID documents, as he also highlighted some other considerations for digital identity apps.

Two other presentations from the vice president in charge of identity document solutions business segment of Thales, Nathalie Gosset, who spoke about bridging the digital identity gap to meet Africa’s challenges; and the international sales manager of OeSD, Franz Brudl, who spoke on whether self-sovereign digital identity solutions can keep their promise of empowering citizens, also marked this symposium.

Each of the two symposiums ended with a question and answer session as some members of the audience directed their questions at speakers for clarification on some of their company services. Idemia’s senior vice president, for instance, answered a question on the interoperability of their digital identity solution. Another question touched on building the basis for mobile ID identifiers. Members of the panel also shared views in response to a question on the challenges that lie in the way of digital service adoption by African countries.

More companies showcase biometric products

Meanwhile, the World Tour of Innovation III took place Wednesday with companies such as Dermalog, Integrated Biometrics, Innovatrics, Suprema, Aware making pitches.

Dermalog presented an overview of some of their recent innovations including a contactless biometric identification software which, its representative Jan Nack said, the company intends to launch soon.

Robert Jones of Integrated Biometrics, speaking from Johannesburg, South Africa, made a panoramic presentation of some of the latest existing biometric solutions of the company, demonstrating how their fingerprint scanners capture high quality fingerprint images.

Innovatrics presented its Entrusted Enrollment solution, which is based on fingerprint and face recognition, and empowers citizens with the possibility of remote document issuance using a smartphone and a government held biometric register.

Paul Kennedy, Suprema’s representative for Africa, also took turn to showcase the biometrics and security products of the company, which it deploys for homes and work places. One of its flagship products, the BioMini Slim 2 fingerprint scanner, was also exhibited.

Other companies that participated in the World Tour of Innovations III included Laxton Group which talked about its multimodal biometrics devices; EY which catalogued its offers in identity management and services as well as SURYS with its latest innovations in secure ID documentation.

In the course of the webinar series, several professionals from African governments and institutions, the digital identity and biometrics industries, civil society and the development community, have been engaging with each other on knowledge-sharing, networking, and exploration of innovations.

The event rounds up December 10 with the last two symposiums as well as the last sessions of the World Tour of Innovations.

Read coverage from Day 1 here.

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