Rapid biometrics growth seen in government contracts, funding, and grave warnings

Rapid biometrics growth seen in government contracts, funding, and grave warnings

A combination of sobering concern and steady progress are seen in the top stories of the past week. Progress towards biometric payment card commercialization continues with updates from Idex Biometrics, Zwipe and Fingerprint Cards, while LexisNexis has won a large U.S. government contract to provide biometrics for fraud prevention, and more government biometrics contracts are coming. Cloudastructure, Nethone, Stytch, Vu and HelloFlow announced a combined $79.3 million raised to tackle various areas of digital identity.

Top biometrics news of the week

The Secure Identity Alliance is warning of a potential shortage of biometric passports and other digital ID documents, if governments neglect to ensure their supply of microchips in the face of a global shortage. The shortage could last until 2023, but optimized inventory management and accurate forecasting could mitigate the risk, according to the Alliance.

Civil and human rights association EDRi has a grim warning about the pervasiveness of biometric mass surveillance in Europe, after examining the laws and uses of the technology in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands. Schemes that fail proportionality tests and open-ended ‘pilots’ and ‘trials’ are accumulating, the group says, and could become normalized if they are not curbed soon.

The Canadian government is beginning the process of tendering contracts for a border biometrics system, both front- and back-end. The system will be expected to enable collection of face and fingerprint biometrics, along with biographical data, at roughly 850 endpoints around the world. The process is starting with an engagement period which closes November 1.

NIST’s latest Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT) looks at algorithm performance in airport scenarios, specifically a dual boarding and immigration records application, and finds somewhat mixed results. While many algorithms can perform to the expected standard with small comparison galleries and multiple enrollment images, a minority of algorithms are accurate enough with single-image enrollment and large-N databases.

Mid-year updates from Idex Biometrics and Zwipe suggest a common focus on biometric payments in the short term, but with China’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) more of a focus for the former, and building out a global network of payment cards partners for the latter. Zwipe MENA GM Ramzi Saboury discusses the company’s biometric payment card plans, including the planned commercial launch of its third-generation biometric payment card in October, with Arabian Business. Saboury says that while Zwipe is partnering with banks in Europe and the U.S. on biometric payment cards, the MENA region could soon take the lead.

A new biometric payment cards production partnership for Fingerprint Cards in Japan, along with the announcement of the company’s sensors being integrated in four new Motorola devices, was the most-read article of the week on Biometric Update. FPC’s T-Shape fingerprint sensor module will be built into cards by MoriX Co. to allow transactions higher than the current contactless transaction cap.

1Kosmos CSO Mike Engle draws out the distinction between enterprise and consumer biometrics in a Biometric Update guest post, noting that the stronger, professional version is what can address that most persistent of cybersecurity vulnerabilities; the password. Implementations of FIDO-based authentication with NIST 800-63-3, using a QR code to close the identity loop, can solve the flaws associated with “Trust on First Use,” Engle writes.

One of the UK government’s biggest advocates for digital ID, Lord Christopher Holmes, joins Biometric Update to talk about the country’s plans to move ahead from the disappointment of Gov.uk Verify, the success of open banking, and how zero-knowledge proofs and self-sovereign identity principles could fit into a more interoperable digital ID landscape.

Several countries have taken action towards easing access to government and financial services with selfie biometrics. The UK government is looking into a single sign-on (SSO) solution, preferably one that does not depend on identity documents, while the National Bank of Australia has tested OCR Labs technology, and LexisNexis Risk Solutions has won a major U.S. federal government contract.

Online identity fraud is occurring in France at an even higher rate than the rest of Europe, according to Fourthline research, providing advice on steps organizations can take to protect themselves from document fraud.

GET Group North America Director of Product Development for Mobile Identity David Kelts provides a deep dive into the ISO 18013-5 standard for mobile driver’s licenses, which is based on Privacy by Design principles, in a guest post.

The flow of investment capital pouring into the industry has slowed somewhat, but funding announcements continued along this week with $29 million for Cloudastructure to scale its facial recognition and computer vision platform, $6.7 million for Nethone and $30 million for Stytch, $12 million for Vu and $1.6 million for HelloFlow.

As always, please let us know in the comments below or through social media about any blog posts, podcasts or other content we should share with the biometrics and digital ID community.

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