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Canadian report considers biometrics, ID banks to improve financial inclusion

Canadian report considers biometrics, ID banks to improve financial inclusion

Biometrics are one of the top solutions suggested in a new report to mitigate barriers to acquiring and using ID that are hindering financial inclusion in the Canadian Province of New Brunswick.

‘Eyeing the ID: Bio-metric (sic) Banking for Saint John,’ produced by the Saint John Community Loan Fund and NB Social Pediatrics, is based on a survey of 157 people from New Brunswick and neighboring province Nova Scotia about financial services and ID. The report says that reducing the barriers caused by ID requirements could improve financial inclusion and access to services in the region.

In addition to biometrics, ID banks, in which identity documents are stored for free, and an ID acquisition service. The report recommends the province adopt the latter two in combination.

Part of the reason for this recommendation is the higher cost of technology and training to establish a biometric identity system, according to the report. Perceptions of biometrics were notably favorable, however.

Despite only a third of respondents reporting that they currently use biometrics, over 79 percent said they would ‘possibly,’ ‘probably,’ or ‘definitely’ be open to using a fingerprint for services currently requiring an ID document, and over 72 percent are at least somewhat open to using iris biometrics. Asked if biometrics could be an effective solution in their area, 79 percent answered “yes,” exactly the same number as for ID banks.

Stakeholder perceptions of the value of bank ID and biometrics were even, but consumers say they are less likely to use ID banks, with just over 52 percent saying they at least “possibly” would do so.

The report notes the efforts of ATB Financial and Boyle Street Community Services in forming Four Directions Financial, which uses biometrics to give people living in poverty in urban centers easier access to financial services. A representative of the Saint John Community Loan Fund told local outlet the Telegraph-Journal that the initiative spurred the study.

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