iProov, Onfido, Daon stake out positions as biometrics-backed immunity passports advance
Biometrics providers including iProov, Onfido and Daon are positioning themselves to serve the requirements of digital health credentials for the travel industry. The EU is currently discussing what requirements it will put in place, while airlines are implementing digital ID systems based on biometric authentication to ensure the safety of their passengers.
BA to trial VeriFLY on London to US flights
British Airways will be the first UK airline to trial VeriFLY, a new biometric mobile health app that provides authentication of COVID-related documents, on flights from London to ten U.S. cities.
Starting Thursday February 4th, BA will be the only airline outside of the U.S. to trial VeriFLY.
In November, American Airlines (BA’s joint business and oneworld partner) began offering VeriFLY to travelers from Jamaica, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to Miami. As of January 23rd, the trial was extended to any international destination to the U.S.
VeriFLY was developed by biometric authentication and identity assurance solutions provider Daon. The iOS and Android app allows travelers to show their COVID-19 test results, verified travel documents, and fast-track airport check-ins via specially designated desks. Travelers can also upload their flight details so VeriFLY can confirm the test matches the country’s regulations with a ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ message.
“Although flying is currently restricted, it is essential we do as much as we can now to help those who are eligible to fly and prepare to help our customers navigate the complexities around changing global entry requirements when the world re-opens. We remain focused and committed to finding user-friendly, evidence-based solutions to make journeys as seamless as they can be. Through these trials, we hope to provide travelers and governments on both sides of the Atlantic with the tools and the reassurance they need to make safe travel possible,” says Sean Doyle, CEO of BA.
Phase two of the trial will focus on both airlines from the U.S. to the UK, making the pair the first transatlantic partners to offer a digital solution for passengers, according to the company media center. The service will be available to eligible travelers only.
EU-wide immunity passport under discussion
Many European countries are backing the idea of an immunity passport, valid for continent-wide travel, reports ABC News. Vaccine programs have already begun in some of the 27 countries, and in the UK, iProov has begun trialing its biometric technology to preserve the privacy of health information within the National Health service.
Tourism dependent countries like Greece, Portugal and Cyprus are advocating more strongly for the EU immunity passport, which would likely be tied to the individual with biometrics, while France has rejected the notion due to widespread vaccine skepticism.
The passport would mean a vaccine would not be necessary to travel, but would eliminate the need for testing on arrival or lengthy quarantine.
“People who have been vaccinated potentially could go and do things collectively, like getting on an airplane, or maybe going into going into a high-risk area, like a care home,” says Andrew Bud, chief executive of iProov. “Ideally, you would want one international standard for the issuance, verification and transportability in recognition of a single certificate worldwide.”
However, the idea has come under criticism from public health experts highlighting that even vaccinated people are still capable of carrying and spreading the virus. Privacy advocates are also raising concern over the data collected via worldwide COVID digital innovation trials due to data misuse and ethical issues.
Yet Polish and Danish citizens will be receiving a QR code vaccine passport after their second dose, while Greeks will gain a digital vaccination certificate.
Kevin Trilli, CPO of Onfido suggests that vaccine proof might be needed for years to come, and that the immunity passport could become “a basic permission attribute.”
Delta launches biometric test for contactless airport journeys
Atlanta-based Delta Airlines is launching a biometric digital ID test, which leverages facial recognition for passengers wanting a touchless travel experience, starting this month for U.S.-entry flights. The airline will also offer the option of purchasing two at-home COVID-19 tests for pre- and post-travel. This new program was piloted in November, and has been developed in partnership with the TSA.
TrustAssure will collaborate with Delta to provide passengers with pre-flight emails, and the option to upload and verify documents at check-in. Travelers will receive a ‘Ready to Fly’ screen on their mobile devices once test information has been verified.
Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer Bill Lentsch stated, “Customers have more travel information coming their way than ever before – with updated COVID-19 testing requirements to digest, new forms to complete and different digital experiences to download and navigate. From simplifying testing to developing an integrated suite of tools on Delta.com, we’re continuing to introduce additional features meant to enhance the existing experience and strengthen the airline’s position as a leader in charting the global recovery.”
Due to the program, there will no longer be a need for passengers to show travel documents in airports, their face alone will be used instead, by matching real time images with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CPB’s) database. Participation in the program is voluntary, and Delta will not store any of the biometric data collected, according to the company’s news hub.
The program will start at Detroit’s Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, with plans to expand in the future. Delta launched the first biometric terminal in the U.S. in December 2018.