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Major biometrics investments carry promise of wider deployments

Major biometrics investments carry promise of wider deployments

Big money biometrics deals returned to the headlines this week on Biometric Update, and along with emerging applications provide encouraging signs for the market. A project to use Wicket’s biometric software at the Australian Open could expand next year, and a sobering report from Trust Stamp includes the seeds of a future growth area. A little further down the maturity curve, Incognia is the latest to raise millions to fuel further growth. Capping the investment, Vision-Box is the industry’s latest major acquisition, with Amadeus investing hundreds of millions of Euros.  ID card chips were also in the headlines, including a new scanning test kit from Regula.

Top biometrics news of the week

Kenya’s national ID cards will have to be renewed after 10 years, due to the expiry of the computer chips they contain, a government official says. The measure is intended to preserve the integrity of the cards and align with international practice, though Southern neighbour Tanzania recently eliminated the expiry of its national ID card.

Regula has developed a service to help businesses test scans of NFC chips in ID documents as they set up remote identity verification. The company’s NFC TestKit includes sample documents, and Regula says it can help speed up implementations and improve security.

Nepal is planning to use biometrics throughout its identity ecosystem, including for national ID cards, civil registration, and now passports. Nepalese people will not have to re-enroll their biometrics if they have already done so, however, as the government will draw on existing databases. The same gear used in earlier registrations will be used for those who have not yet enrolled their biometrics.

Ugandan officials are rumored to have requested that the country’s ID authority NIRA be merged with its citizenship and immigration agency. Any such move would require higher-level approval than has been sought so far. NIRA is buying 5,500 biometric enrollment kits for mass enrollment for Uganda’s new national ID card, but the price has ballooned.

A dispute over the peninsula of Bakassi was won by Cameroon more than 20 years ago, but most of the area’s residents still do not have legal IDs. A feature article explores the troubling situation through interviews with regional authorities, as well as people who lack ID, despite wanting it, and in some cases even having enrolled their data.

The finalists for the UNDP’s 2023 Future of Government awards include several bodies carrying out digital identity initiatives. Brazil’s Digital Identity Directorate, PhilSys and Service NSW are among nominees. The winners will be announced on February 15.

A UK government ministry has begun a consultation to consider allowing people buying alcohol to prove their age with digital ID. An age verification requirement for booze sales and deliveries is also being considered, but the combination of mistrust and misconceptions about how the technology works could present a major barrier.

A new white paper from Trust Stamp considers the threat of quantum computing to biometrics, and offers a set of recommendations for mitigating it. The company says biometric hashing and AES symmetric encryption with larger keys and hashes should be safe, but organizations should begin preparing now, as criminals already have with “harvest now, decrypt later” schemes.

Wicket’s face biometrics were used at this year’s Australian Open for entry without presenting a physical or digital ticket, on a limited basis. Corporate tickets for “premium experience entry points” used Wicket’s facial recognition through Ticketmaster’s AO Express Entry program, which could grow for next year’s tennis tournament.

Amadeus is acquiring Vision-Box for $347 million to integrate the Portuguese company’s line of biometric gates and digital identity software with its border and travel services. The result, the companies say, will be seamless traveller experiences across all processes from booking to boarding.

A $31 million series B funding round for Incognia is led by a venture firm with a strong SaaS portfolio. The money will be allocated to expanding operations in North America and EMEA, product development and expansion into new verticals for Incognia’s behavioral biometrics, device profiling and location identity technology.

Please tell us about any interviews, panel discussions or other content you see that seems worth sharing with the people in biometrics and the broader digital identity community through the comments below or social media.

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