Biometrics 2015 roundup

Autumn has seen some pretty exciting news coming out of the biometrics arena. First Bank of America integrating Apple’s Touch ID technology into its mobile banking app, then Visa introducing a new biometric specification for chip card transactions that can enable palm, voice, iris, or facial verification which is designed to work with the EMV chip industry standard to make solutions more easily scalable.

More recently, a report revealed that by 2020, more than $5.6 trillion of payments will be secured by biometric technology, a biometric authentication company raised $5m to accelerate the commercialisation of its biometric authentication technology, and Japanese card scheme JCB incorporated Fujitsu’s palm vein authentication technology into its global payment network.

It was therefore with a sense of excitement that PaymentEye attended Biometrics 2015, a conference focussing on providing great practical advice, tips and solutions for using biometric technology for managing identity and increasing efficiency within government and commercial applications.


“Identity theft is a major concern”

The first seminar PaymentEye attended was presented by Reiko Yasue executive operating officer & director of Global Business Division, Fujisoft.

Fujisoft is just one of three companies in the world – alongside previously mentioned Fujitsu and Hitachi – to have patented finger vein technology.

Finger vein technology is a niche that is quickly gaining traction amongst biometric companies because, as Reiko put, it is “inimitable and unobtainable”. Fujisoft actually launched the technology ten years ago when it installed the technology in 2000 ATMs in China and more recently in 7000 ATMs in Thailand.



“Governments are driving biometric technology”

She also pointed out that biometric technology is generally being driven by governments, which is unsurprising given their desire to create and implement more efficient ways of identifying people. As more and more governments deploy biometrics in identification documents such passports or driving licences, the general public’s awareness of the technology increases, which could only ever be a good thing for the private sector.


“APAC region is more receptive”

After the seminar, PaymentEye caught up with Debaskis Mazumdar from Fujisoft. He indicated that uptake of biometric technology in terms of electronic banking, and finger vein technology in particular, was particularly high in the Asia Pacific region. He also highlighted that banking is the number one sector for the company, reinforcing the idea that many people see biometrics as the future of payments.

In terms of such complex technology going mainstream across the world, Debaskis said that given the high cost of the technology coupled with the need of installing terminals everywhere, “it will take some time to go mainstream”.


Implementing biometrics

Later on in the day, a partnership between identity verification company Paycasso and PwC was explored in the panel debate about how companies are implementing Biometric technology. The panel consisted of Russell King, Paycasso CEO, the director of PwC Forensic Services Ben Luddington, Gareth Leggett, Sales director of Behaviosec and was moderated by Graham O’Connell, partner at PwC Financial Crime.

When asked what the main challenges were in implementing the technology, Russell said it was catering to the different requirements of different-sized companies. He noted that startups tend to be more aggressive and quicker in terms of getting the technology out there, whilst clients such as large retail banks pose a problem given the sheer size and scale of their operations.

Behaviosec’s Gareth raised the issue of delivering a multi-channel experience and also the challenge of providing a high-quality service without resorting to additional hardware and creating a strong customer experience without detracting from security factors.

The second topic of discussion was the idea of knowing and identifying your client. Russell noted that recently “there has been a shift in attitude in terms of moving towards improving the onboarding experience”.



The early adopters

Just as Fujisoft’s Debaskis highlighted the APAC region as being particularly open to biometric innovation, Gareth too noted that the Japanese market is particularly welcoming. He also mentioned that the Nordic markets have been excellent adopters of innovative technologies such as biometrics.

He said the Nordic countries “came together to solve authentication issues” and focussed on creating “repeatable, seamless user experiences no matter what the device or application”.


UK not as advanced

He added that the UK “isn’t as advanced as that. We’re early adopters, but nobody wants to be the guinea pig”.


Next five years

Russell said that the focus for the near future is on continuing to work on the onboarding process and “how can we continue to make everybody’s life easier”. He also drew attention to the issue of age and how the technology should appeal to “all age groups” rather than the ones who are already very tech savvy.

He went on to stress that the overarching objective of the biometric industry are to focus on broader appeal and improve trust.

The conference, which is entering its last today, highlighted just how exciting the biometric industry is and more relevantly showed how there is express interest to continue integrating the technology into payments.

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