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TrueID outlines plan for biometric applications in South Africa amid COVID-19 vaccination rollout

Partnering with Tech5 to bring advanced cryptography to biometrics

Biometrics and digital ID

Bringing advanced cryptography to biometric fingerprint technology was the goal of a partnership formed between TrueID and Tech5. Their combined technology has been implemented in a biometric immunity passport to enable the verification of vaccination, and negative or antibody testing for travelers.

Biometric Update spoke with Mike Roczynski, a partner at TrueID, to understand what the new partnership means for TrueID, and more generally, the company’s current and future plans in South Africa.

Biometric solutions’ limitations during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact in forcing the consumer to transact in a non-face-to-face manner, Roczynski explains, but it also created opportunities for biometrics companies, particularly those developing touchless solutions.

“We regularly hear of the surge in ‘home deliveries’ from online shopping sites. However, when institutions need to KYC a customer for regulatory compliance purposes, not being able to conduct a face-to-face meeting to verify the person’s identity becomes a problem.”

According to Roczynski, many fraudsters are aware of this phenomenon and are exploiting it by using stolen and or synthetic identities.

“Traditionally, institutions would capture a customer’s thumbprints and authenticate them against the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) database,” Roczynski says.

For context, every citizen with a South African ID booklet (or card) has a fingerprint recorded at the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).

“To capture a person’s fingerprint using an appropriate biometric reader/device, the customer would need to go somewhere, whether it be ‘in branch or store,’ and place their finger on a surface that potentially puts them at risk of catching COVID-19,” Roczynski says.

However, recent ‘social distancing’ protocols have restricted how many people may enter a bank or store at any one time.

“I am sure we have all seen the length of the queues outside our banks! Would you want to stand in line? This causes a major barrier to using fingerprints.”

Because of this, Roczynski adds, many businesses have turned to facial recognition-based solutions as their main eKYC (electronic Know Your Customer) solutions.

These, too, are only partially effective in South Africa, however, as approximately 85 percent of the population reportedly have a facial image at the DHA.

“When you consider other operational factors such as lighting, posing, image quality, liveness detection, algorithm quality, etc, you may be lucky to correctly identify 70 percent of your customers,” Roczynski explains.

TrueID partners with Tech5

According to the TrueID Partner, the company’s main goal is to be a technological ‘disrupter’ in all vertical markets.

“Businesses are losing customers and money every day, and in the COVID-19 economy, there are not many organizations that can afford these kinds of losses, especially in light of the fact that experts are predicting a third wave of COVID-19 in 2021,” Roczynski says.

To optimize the deployment of biometric solutions and help companies recover from the financial losses of the past year, TrueID has partnered with Swiss technology company Tech5.

“By doing so, TrueID has removed the burden from businesses having to rely on sub-standard facial recognition solutions to identify their customers,” Roczynski explains.

“TrueID is empowering businesses to return to fingerprints, authenticated at DHA HANIS level.”

In addition, Roczynski says, TrueID’s touchless fingerprint technology has outperformed traditional fingerprint readers and, therefore, proven to be more secure and more accurate.

“More importantly, by using our touchless fingerprints we can verify/authenticate every South African citizen with an Identity Card/Book.

“We are now filling the gap where every single facial recognition-based solution in South Africa is failing. Why would a business accept a 70 percent to 85 percent success rate?”

Accessible and secure biometrics for touchless applications

From a user experience perspective, the solution integrating TrueID and Tech5 technologies is an accessible one.

In fact, the app works on any smartphone with a 2-megapixel rear-facing camera, which is used for touchless reading of users’ fingerprints quickly and at a safe distance.

Moreover, the accuracy of the biometric algorithms behind the T5-Finger Mobile app has been confirmed in numerous International testing rounds and competitions.

The technology scored second-most accurate in the NIST PFT III test last December, also showing the fastest template comparison time of all vendors participating in all databases used in the testing, as well as one of the smallest biometric template sizes.

When asked about the app’s security features, Roczynski said its cryptography is something of a “trade secret.”

“It suffices to say we operate a triple-level encryption including PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) and are able to store nine times more data than a simple QR-Code or a barcode,” he explains.

“T5-Cryptography is also backed by the individual’s fingerprint biometrics and can only be decoded upon the successful verification of the person’s fingerprint.”

Moving forward, Roczynski says TrueID will continue collaborating with Tech5 and other biometric firms to bring affordable ‘cutting-edge’ technology to South African businesses.

“[These solutions] not only will protect their customer’s identity, but they will also allow a very efficient and reliable user experience and combat the ever-present threat of fraud,” he concluded.

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