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Contactless biometrics momentum builds for access control in airports, digital wallets and workplaces


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The range of opportunities arising from the need to secure digital IDs with biometric authentication are on display in this week’s top headlines from around the industry. Companies like Evernym, Yoti and iProov are working on securing vaccine passes, biometric access control devices have been launched by G+D and TrustSec, and a Suprema product has set a new opening sales record. Leaders from Nymi and BehavioSec also see new markets adopting biometrics for continuous authentication.

Most read biometrics news this week

ID2020 unveiled a massive new initiative to ensure global interoperability and user control of data among digital health pass systems with partners including Mastercard, the International Chamber of Commerce, Airport Council International, the Common Project Foundation, and Evernym, which already has a biometric vaccine passport on the market. The Good Health Pass initiative has published a white paper, and will follow with an interoperability blueprint, expected in March.

The World Economic Forum held a webinar with heavy hitters including Yoti CEO Robin Tombs to talk about the Common Trust Framework and the need for broad coordination to get people and economies moving again. The UK says it has no plans to require proof of vaccination, while Australia is working on a digital health credential, while the Ada Lovelace Institute discussed the everyday experience and ethics of vaccine passports in a webinar with iProov partner Mvine and others.

Alan Gelb and Anit Mukherjee of the Center for Global Development suggest that COVID vaccine certificates must employ digital technology to be more trustworthy than the Yellow Card, but face a range of design and implementation challenges along the way. The formalization of Level of Identity Assurance should help, but low-cost and high-access approaches must be found to not exacerbate the disparity in vaccination rates between the world’s rich and poor.

Idex Biometrics has formed a partnership with a global payments company to jointly market and sell biometric payment cards, as fingerprint-enabled dual-interface cards drop towards the $5 per unit mark. A payments industry body in the UK meanwhile is calling for a further increase in contactless payment limits, which would further drive the need for enhanced security.

Deepfakes, and the proliferation of tools to create them, are a growing threat to the user authentication systems that underpin KYC and AML checks, according to Gemini Advisory. South Korea may be the country with the first public push against deepfake technology, and manipulated AI in general.

Nigeria’s government is moving to have the country’s biometrics-backed Bank Verification Numbers replaced by the national digital identity system, as NINs are integrated into various functional ID systems. Communications and Digital Economy Minister Dr. Isa Pantami announced the plan, which is yet to reach final approval.

Among new leaders in the industry RealNetworks has a new CFO, SuperCom is transitioning to a new CEO, and G+D has a new smartcards head, while Corsight has appointed directors for India and Oceania and One World Identity has brought on a new managing director for Advisory Services.

Biometric access control devices have been launched by G+D, in the form of a dual access control token, and TrustSec, as a smartcard for biometric FIDO2 passwordless authentication, while Idemia will present on smartcards for enterprise MFA in an upcoming webinar.

Australia’s government digital ID framework my soon be used under a federated model for private sector platforms, if a bill in the works from the Digital Transformation Agency is adopted. The new legislation would extend the framework to state and local governments, as well as the private sector, but law enforcement access to the data, including biometrics, will be prohibited.

The new FaceStation 2 multimodal biometric terminal sold the most units of any Suprema product ever has in its first quarter on the market, the company announced, lauding its partners at a recent online summit. The company also took the opportunity to introduce two executives who have new roles leading access control platform BioStar.

Contactless workplace authentication and access control appears to be a market with major growth potential right now, but as executives from Nymi and rfIDEAS explain to Biometric Update in an email interview, PPE was already posing a barrier to some traditional authentication methods even before the pandemic. Their partnership gives industrial workplaces the option of multi-factor continuous biometric authentication through a wearable.

Continuous authentication throughout a session is also one of the advantages of layering behavioral biometrics into online security systems, according to a guest post by Dr. Shane Hook of BehavioSec. New working environments and frequent data breaches mean the increased friction of legacy knowledge-based authentication methods are being defeated, so the race is on for organizations to strengthen their logical access controls.

For the exciting potential of open banking to be realized, challenges to onboarding, data privacy and security will have to be resolved, Trulioo COO Zac Cohen writes in a Forbes Business Council post. Fintech companies and banks are the ones positioned to solve those problems and usher in a dramatic transformation in financial services.

The adoption of biometrics for internet applications as they have been for physical access control and telephone services could improve online learning, LumenVox advisor Dr. Clive Summerfield argues in an editorial for Security Magazine. He sees the combination of voice and face biometrics as particularly likely to help prevent identity fraud in online exams, and points out that many of the concepts are in their infancy.

After the initial disruption to airport implementations of biometrics and other new technologies, Vision-Box says many facilities have been taking advantage of the lull to make upgrades, keeping the company near as busy as it has ever been. The new EES system at Europe’s borders could be an opportunity for vendors of automated border kiosks, SITA says, while an airport in Taiwan and Emirates Airlines are launching touchless capabilities.

TSA CIO and Assistant Administrator Russell Roberts joins Jason Miller on Federal News Network’s Ask the CIO podcast to talk about the agency’s digital transformation. The conversation touches on TSA’s plans to deploy more touchless biometrics to reduce friction at checkpoints, and ways people will be able to use the mobile driver’s licenses which are coming out, as well as the pace of development and what agile development means within the federal government.

The aggregation and organization of data about an individual from the many sources available by systems that provide “multi-intelligence fusion” like Genetec’s Citigraf and Valcri is examined by Wired, complete with a history of the concept’s development by the Pentagon. The algorithms making up the system’s “correlation engine” can slash investigatory grunt work from weeks to less than a day, and Genetec has had to turn down opportunities, including one that proposed combining mobile phone tracking with facial recognition for constant universal tracking, due to their potential for abuse.

Please let us know about any articles, podcasts or other content that you think should be shared with people in biometrics or the digital ID community in the comments below or through social media.

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