National identity systems still works in progress, biometrics investment market strong

biometric digital identity verification for fraud prevention

Government digital ID efforts and investments in biometric technology made up most of the top stories on Biometric Update over the past week. Plans to fast-track the rollout of PhilSys in the Philippines, mobile driver’s license adoption in the U.S., even as REAL ID implementation is delayed again, and the need for biometric passports to include trustworthy facial images made headlines. Meanwhile Paravision’s facial recognition will be integrated by HID Global, one of its latest investors, NEC has developed an AI engine to speed up biometric matching, and NEC of America has launched a new subsidiary.

Top biometrics news of the week

Registrations for the PhilSys national digital identity have been granted an essential service exemption from the country’s restrictions on movement due to COVID-19, as the government attempts to fast-track the program. The efforts also include a scaled-up online system, which handles registration up to biometrics enrollment, as the website has been plagued by performance issues.

The smart home technology market is forecast to be worth over $70 billion in five years, and biometric locks could play a significant role in the expected growth, as explained in a recent Fingerprint Cards webcast and blog post. Insurance brokers are starting to incentivize smart locks, and biometric locks can already help people save money, according to research by Bankrate.

Mobile driver’s licenses are coming to more U.S. States, and could reach eight by early 2022, and they can do an increasing number of things with acceptance from an increasing number of agencies. They are coming online faster than REAL ID, the deadline for which has been pushed back again, now until 2023.

Trusted travel documents are too frequently failing up to their name, according to a Secure Identity Alliance report, and that includes biometric passports. Altered images, including face morphs, are too common, and between under-trained border personnel and too many false positives, there are several areas countries can address to improve their border security.

The implications of digital transformation and convergence for identity proofing are examined in a blog post by Onfido VP of Design Mark Opland by reference to the Locksmith Paradox. He argues that “strategically architected friction,” based on a deep understanding of customer expectations and perceptions, can actually benefit users and the businesses that need to know who they are.

The biometrics industry is still working out what to do about face spoofing, which Innovatrics CEO and CTO Jan Lunter describes in an editorial for BetaNews as a move from verifying identity to verifying humanity. Lunter says active liveness checks cause enrollment to be abandoned 20 to 30 percent of the time, while passive liveness detection requires innovation right down to collecting images for dataset training.

Paravision’s impressive $23 million funding round is lent extra intrigue by the inclusion of biometric system integrator and established partner HID Global among its investors. The company plans to put the money into technology development and partner teams, as it expands the global reach of its facial recognition technology.

The Tekuni newsletter features an examination of facial recognition in Japan through an interview with Autify Senior Machine Learning Engineer Nauman Mustafa. Mustafa talks about the use of face biometrics for contactless airport processes, the risks the technology can pose through biased performance, and how public awareness is necessary to inform societal decisions its increasing use will raise.

Deployments of digital health passes are advancing in France and the UK, but uncertainty around what they will be required for, and how they will ensure trust is raising concerns. A partnership between Mastercard and Cassava, meanwhile, will see the Africa CDC Travel Pass built into Mastercard’s Community Pass platform to expand its reach.

Global aviation is slowly ramping up operations, and the G20’s advice to help the process along includes increasing the use of biometrics and contactless technologies. Jumio similarly emphasizes the value of biometrics and online identity verification, while a trial of the Aruba Health App with SITA and the extension of Israel’s Green Pass seem to indicate a general trend towards digital health passes.

The extensive examination of digital health passes in their various forms and permutations by ID4Africa wrapped up recently, with 20 different experts sharing insights on everything from health record stacks based on centralized registries to verifiable credentials to ways self-sovereign identity can be used in proving health status. Part two considered national initiatives, the Good Health Pass initiative and innovative technologies, highlighting the need for a trustworthy off-line authentication method. Part three considered the chain of trust for health testing or vaccination, from the event to use of a credential which proves it happened, with a CEO panel discussion, a presentation on the EU Green Pass, and a segment on repurposing proven technologies.

Interest in using biometrics and other new methods to authenticate payments is high among Africans, according to new research from Mastercard. More people expect to use QR codes in the next year, but 42 percent expect to use biometrics, just as the business environment appears to be improving for digital startups in Nigeria.

NEC has developed an artificial intelligence engine that it says can accelerate facial recognition and other applications where real-time analysis of time series data is involved by up to 20 times. The neuroscience-inspired innovation does not degrade accuracy, the company says, by using a confidence threshold to deliver results faster.

Demand from the U.S. government for biometrics and other advanced technologies has prompted the launch of new NEC America subsidiary NEC National Security Systems, which will be led by Benji Hutchinson. The new company is expected to reach a Special Security Agreement with the government and achieve Top Secret Facility Clearance Level to support its federal customers, and notes its parent company’s legacy of investing in technology R&D.

SITA was launched by the air travel industry 25 years ago in preparation for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, and the company is celebrating its anniversary by holding its own Olympics to raise funds for the COVAX initiative. From early development of the electronic travel authorization system to pioneering biometric kiosks, SITA reviews its work helping 60 governments control their borders.

The EmotiBit biometric wearable, which can provide insight into the wearer’s emotions, as well as physiological traits and movement, according to its inventors, completed its crowdfunding campaign with $118,692 in pledges, smashing through its Kickstarter goal of $15,000. If the enthusiasm of the crowdfunding community is any indication, we will be hearing more from this project soon. The estimated delivery date for pledge rewards is February 2022.

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