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Governments extending digital IDs secured with biometrics, from mDLs to payments

Governments extending digital IDs secured with biometrics, from mDLs to payments

Government digital ID programs, particularly mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) and international travel documents are a common thread found in many of the week’s most widely-read stories on Biometric Update.

Amid a G20 meeting and a cross-border trial unveiled by Spain and Germany, there is plenty of private-sector activity, with Thales supporting Florida’s mDLs, joint training with Onfido, and a new way of thinking about the technology supported by Evernym gaining traction. Elsewhere, Zwipe and Idex Biometrics announced further steps towards biometric payment cards’ mass adoption, Tech5 and Yinda Infocomm positioning themselves to provide biometrics for Indian retail payments and enterprise digital transformation, respectively, and Idemia has spotlighted its impressive results in the latest NIST analysis of 1:N facial recognition algorithm accuracy.

Top biometrics news of the week

Ministers from the G20 group of nations met this week in Italy, discussing the role of digital identity for digital service access and digital transformation. The Ministers want to share best practices and explore digital identity that provides security and complies with privacy regulations, which would help ensure the continuity of government services.

Florida has advanced to testing mobile driver’s licenses secured with biometrics, with an operational deployment possible by year’s end. As previously reported by Biometric Update, Thales is providing the technology behind the test, and the company’s Steve Purdy, who contributed a guest post on the subject earlier this year, emphasizes the importance of privacy to the project. Much political capital has been expended in the state demonizing tech and various government identification initiatives, which may yet pose a barrier.

Mobile driver’s licenses can do a lot more than prove driving privileges, of course, and Utah is adding health care functions to its mDL, in a partnership with Harmons Grocery, just as Shanghai’s digital health pass is being given transportation and other functions. These developments show part of what digital ID researcher and consultant Tracey Follows has in mind when pitching ‘digital wallet’ as the operative concept, with reference to Evernym’s Drummond Reed.

Tests and operational deployments of digital health passes continue to be announced as the civil aviation industry claws its way back from its near-shutdown during the early stages of the pandemic. TestFRWD’s Yoti biometrics-powered app is verifying at-home test results for Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific advancing beyond the test stage with the CommonPass, and Emirates implementing the IATA Travel Pass more broadly, which Qantas will also use.

Government digital ID plans are even extending across borders, with a new agreement between Spain and Germany to develop a pilot of an open, decentralized identity ecosystem, which makes sense given the self-sovereign bent of Germany’s national ID system. Proponents of that approach were given further ammunition by a breach of Estonian data, including photos of citizens used for IDs, names and digital ID codes.

Onfido teamed with INTERPOL to train 30 officers from two U.S. airports on how to spot fraudulent passports and other travel identity documents through examination of the documents’ embedded security features and knowledge of current counterfeit and forgery tactics. The use of biometrics to authenticate people bearing travel documents to the information those documents contain also reached new airports in the U.S. and Russia.

Zwipe has signed a biometric payment card deal expected to generate $1.9 million in revenue, marking both another step towards wide mass market availability of fingerprint-enabled cards, and a dramatic improvement in the company’s top line. In another step for the technology, Idex Biometrics has launched a new TrustedBio product to enable card manufacturers to utilize standard, and therefore less costly secure elements.

Idemia has scored impressive results for biometric accuracy in the latest facial recognition test from NIST, scoring among the top 5 in a range of categories. Idemia National Security Solutions touted the company’s repeated positive results, and its technology’s effectiveness regardless of the subjects’ gender, skin color or age.

Tech5 has won the National Payments Corporation of India’s PayAuth Challenge, which positions the company to provide its biometric technology for retail payments through the company’s unified payments interface. Yinda Infocomm, which recently took a stake in Tech5, also moved to position itself with an agreement on a development partnership with Vision Group.

The potential pitfalls of an over-generalized message on digital ID were discussed by a panel of experts affiliated with GoodID in a recent online event. Tom Fisher, Emma Lindley, Teki Akuetteh Falconer and Titi Akinsanmi all express concerns about exclusion, and the different ways it can creep into national ID systems, but also offer some suggestions for ways governments can avoid it – when they are so inclined.

TruNarrative celebrates its third anniversary of fighting financial crime and helping businesses ensure regulatory compliance by updating its visual branding. The company now employs over 60 people at its headquarters in Leeds, which Co-founder Larry Smith describes as “the fastest growing Fintech hub in Europe,” and is anticipating further growth from its eight-figure sales numbers.

If you spot an article, podcast or other content that you would like to share with the biometrics and digital identity community please let us know in the comments below or through social media.

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