Biometrics basis for massive financial inclusion project reflects privacy prioritization
Digital ID has taken on new importance over the past year, driving a spectacular and extended run of financing which now includes ID.me and Persona, and providing fuel for inclusion initiatives like the new tie-up including Mastercard, Paycode, and now Trust Stamp. User-controlled digital identity systems backed by biometrics are catching footholds in government eID and private sector digital health pass efforts, as discussed with Aware, SecureKey and Evernym. Meanwhile Integrated Biometrics is touting new capabilities from partner Sciometrics, and Rank One is celebrating algorithm performance improvements.
Top biometrics news of the week
A partnership between Mastercard and South Africa-based fintech Paycode aims to enroll 30 million people across Africa in a financial inclusion scheme, issuing biometric smart cards to them over the next three years. Participants do not need to posses a foundational identity document, and will get a biometrics-backed digital identity and a bank account, with services accessible offline in real-time.
The government of Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, has revealed details about its plans for a digital ID system for the public and private sectors based on self-sovereign identity. The standards under consideration and key principles for the initiative, which include adherence to DIACC’s Pan-Canadian Trust Framework, are outlined. Liquid Avatar applauded the move, and also reported a successful interoperability demonstration with its health credential system during a hackathon-like event.
Computer Weekly Editor in Chief Bryan Glick questions the demand for a single digital identity across government services in an opinion piece, pointing out that the UK government appears set to make coordinated presentations at next week’s TechUK and Identity Week events. Rumors about an app being announced are making the rounds, but One Login removes the ‘double-blind’ privacy protections of the Verify system and could have many of the same risks that make ID cards politically untenable in Britain.
With digital identity taking on a newly-expanded role during the pandemic, International ID Day 2021 was observed on September 16. ID4Africa Executive Chairman and ID Day visionary Dr. Joseph Atick joins Biometric Update to explain the urgency of the mission and what was learned from the process of narrowing down entries to a competition to choose an artwork to represent the day.
Digital health passes using Verifiable Credentials are going to have to use the right version and in the right way to ensure user controlled privacy, experts from Evernym and SecureKey suggest. Aware’s Mohamed Lazzouni describes the overall project as a market fulfillment exercise, and expects biometrics will be widely used by the systems regardless of whether they use PKI or SSI. They weighed in during a series of conversations with Biometric Update stretching back into the early part of the year. Their candor is appreciated, as the general reception from technology providers approached about the topic was less enthusiastic than usual.
Integrated Biometrics’ partner Sciometrics has applied for patents in both the U.S. and Europe on touchless fingerprint technology to improve the quality of images captured on mobile devices and include identity with transactions. Sciometrics’ image quality-improvement technology, which the company says meets the FBI’s PIV standard is slated for integration in IB’s Slapshot Touchless SDK.
Rank One Computing says its facial recognition accuracy is up by between 30 and 40 percent in NIST testing, leading CEO Scott Swan to declare it fit for almost any application of the technology. An algorithm representing a new line of development for the company placed near the top of the list in seven out of eight accuracy metrics in the latest FRVT.
A research paper on facial recognition biases beyond demographics indicates that consideration of irrelevant features like accessories, hairstyles and make-up degrades the performance of some facial recognition models. Biometric performance is actually better for people with gray hair or facial hair, according to the researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute and the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.
This week’s major digital ID provider funding announcements were led off by ID.me, which secured $100 million in debt financing and a $20 million revolving line of credit, and has hired several new executives. Indonesian digital identity startup VIDA has also raised funds to expand both its technology and business sides. Persona followed that with a $150 million Series C it plans to put towards growing its team and customer base.
Among a wide range of speakers at KuppingerCole’s European Identity and Cloud Conference (EIC) 2021 was Revelock VP Mateusz Chrobok on standardization of behavioral biometrics, FIDO Alliance, Beyond Identity and DIACC representatives on moving on from passwords and “traditional” MFA, and iProov’s Tom Whitney on using controlled illumination as a third step in selfie biometrics to defend against injection attacks. The next day at EIC, Acuity Principal Analyst Maxine Most and Anonybit CEO Frances Zelazny spoke about moving past the storage of complete biometric templates and the overall market’s incredible potential, respectively, and together about how enterprise identity management is changing, and what is holding it back.
The same tools used to create deepfake attacks like voice cloning, machine learning and advanced analytics, can be harnessed to defend against them, Experian VP of Strategy for Global ID and Fraud David Britton writes in a guest post. Britton advocates for a layered approach, anchored by robust access control.
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