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Face, the future: How biometrics is already reshaping the way we do everything


biometric facial recognition

By Peter Martis, Director of Global Sales at Innovatrics.

Using your face to open a door is, of course, plausible if you’re discussing either the latest advances in physical security to incorporate biometrics, or a challenge on a Japanese game show.

When the pandemic started last year, biometric solution providers received calls from potential customers who wanted to use face-driven remote access for everything. Companies wanted elevated security for their remote onboarding processes for remote workers, as well as touchless and seamless access to their physical offices once enough was known about the virus to begin sending people back to work in waves.

Is there a way to use my face to call an elevator so that it takes me to the exact floor I work on? Is there a way to incorporate touchless temperature checks into a system that opens our automatic doors so that unauthorized workers and those running a fever can’t get in?

If necessity is the mother of invention, then the challenges posited by the coronavirus pandemic may indeed be the progenitor of the next generation of touch-free tech, with biometrics leading the way. Below are a few creative solutions to problems that our clients came to us with, having done quite an impressive amount of conceptual legwork beforehand.

Be prepared to see at least some—if not all—of these solutions come to fruition in the next few years.

Big ideas in the works

Telecommunications companies and the financial services industry had tons of ideas of what to do with biometrics technology. If biometrics is something that you’d like to keep your eye on from an investment standpoint, look into ways companies in both these sectors are adopting biometrics technology, how quickly this technology is being adopted, and to what scale. How both industries are choosing to use biometric tech is different than each other, though very innovative nonetheless.

For instance: The big push in telcos is to use biometrics to go completely paperless. Right now, telecoms are becoming fully virtual – no physical branches, just an app to download and process everything. And with the advent of eSIMs, even the last physical step, the delivery of the plastic SIM, will be done with..

Rather than go to the shop and purchase a physical SIM card, eSIM users can simply download their telco provider of choice’s app, create an account and establish their method of payment linked to a biometric scan and liveness check of their face, and voila—now their phone works.

Currently a courier still has to bring users a physical SIM card to use after they’ve completed the steps listed above. And yes, this may sound like a lot of extra steps to get a SIM card, but once eSIMs are established the last physical step involving the courier will be cut out entirely. After the biometric registration stage, users’ phones will automatically begin receiving service from their new provider with no further physical interaction required.

Financial services were also interested in quickly adopting biometrics solutions at the start of the pandemic, and industry leaders were quick to come up with how they wanted to use the technology.

Retail banks realized they were going to lose customers during the lockdown if they couldn’t figure out a way to remotely authenticate the identities of people who wanted to open a new account. Normally, customers would be required to come into a physical branch and speak with a teller or bank representative, but that wasn’t possible when the world locked down. So, biometrics methods for the onboarding process of opening a new bank account were quickly devised and adopted.

The biometric solution is both more secure and more convenient for the customer – the largest bank in our home market actually uses the solution not only for remote onboarding, but for opening an account in the physical branches as well. The process is both quick and more accurate than transcribing client’s ID. In other words, a process created for the early adopters has become the norm because of its convenience.

Banks already offering biometrics security measures to their customers noticed an increased demand for more robust security measures to determine whether the person trying to login to their account was actually them or someone attempting to spoof the system using an image or a 3D mask. Of course, these types of security measures already exist, but coronavirus set off a race in the biometrics industry to make these new detection and vision algorithms faster, safer, and more simplified.

What we’re seeing now is how banks are trying to do is to integrate biometrics into as many of their products as possible, especially loans. This extra check of identity is to ensure that the person asking for the loan is the right person and not a scammer who maybe stole someone’s phone or got access to someone’s online bank account. Banks and financial intermediaries are also using biometrics when talking with their clients remotely because this is something that the regulator demands as well.

Ubiquitous security for ubiquitous internet

In ten minutes from now (not really, but it will feel like it in retrospect), you’ll be able to look at your phone to unlock it, login to your grocery delivery app, pay with a glance after picking your items, and have everything delivered to a preferred destination. In this future world, the privacy nightmare of having to deal with all the logins and passwords associated with all the accounts we need to run all the apps we use will be eliminated with biometrics.

Biometrics is inherently more secure than reusing the same password everywhere, especially if the passwords you’re recycling are the minimum-length and easy-to-remember passwords that work best for the small digital keyboard provided to users by the majority of mobile apps.

It goes without saying that if an oft-recycled password leaks, hackers will try to use it everywhere to gain access to other accounts you might have. With modern security advancements in biometrics, it’s inherently safer because you can’t just steal a face template and use it somewhere else.

Fraud loses focus

In the future (two to three hours from now, by the logic of the above parenthetical), bank ATMs with cameras could be coupled with the biometric database they’ve collected so that they could check whether the person trying to take money out using your card is really the owner of the card.

This hypothetical piece of tech will be able to accurately determine the real user from an imposter wearing a mask, and will also be able to check whether only one face is looking at the ATM while the transaction is being carried out. That is to say, if the ATM sees two faces when you’re putting in your PIN, it will blur the screen so you know someone is looking over your shoulder.

Diverse solutions like this will emerge once people get used to the fact that they can verify identity with their faces. Once they have had a taste of the security, convenience, and ease of use biometrics provides to one service, consumers will want to have biometric options available to other services as well—including the public sector, with it’s universe of endless bureaucratic forms nobody wants to fill out.

Widespread biometric integration at secure access points will change the way consumers interact with payment systems, access sensitive personal or work-related information, and commit to major financial decisions, like taking out a bank loan. Additionally, biometrics will streamline consumer-facing services across telecommunications, financial services, tax, utilities, and other government-related services.

A future of secure convenience, we face.

About the author

Peter Martis, head of global sales at Innovatrics, is a long-term biometric industry insider. He has overseen the development of the Digital Onboarding Toolkit that now powers opening new accounts for banks, fintech, telcos, and other companies in dozens of countries on four continents.

DISCLAIMER: BiometricUpdate.com blogs are submitted content. The views expressed in this blog are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BiometricUpdate.com.

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