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Contactless biometrics hit fever pitch and fingerprint payment cards reach milestone

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Contactless biometrics
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The top biometrics and digital ID stories this week were dominated by fingerprints for contactless payments and facial recognition for touchless versions of a range of processes. The first biometric payment card issuance expected to reach five figures in units and customers marks a milestone for one market segment, while biometrics checks for digital wallets and facial recognition systems for safe reopening may represent the next big breakout areas for the industry.

The top story of the week is the first ever commercial launch of fingerprint-enabled contactless biometric payment cards expected to reach ten thousand or more units. The cards will be issued by French bank BNP Paribas, with technology from Thales and Fingerprint Cards, which achieved Mastercard certification earlier in the year.

On the other side of the biometric payment card supply market, contactless cards with fingerprint technology from Zwipe and Idex Biometrics will be made by a large Italian smartcard manufacturer and another based in Brazil, which serves the broader Latin American market. The watch is now on for partnerships with banks and other card issuers.

Idex Biometrics CEO Vince Graziani considers whether the tipping point for global adoption of biometrics payment cards has arrived for Fintech Finance. With barriers receding in importance and a sudden spike in demand for secure contactless transactions, Graziani predicts the ramp-up will come in 2021.

Mobile money is also forecast to be a major growth area for biometrics, with digital wallets and QR codes gaining in popularity for payments and other transactions. Market reports also predict big gains in facial recognition due to the pandemic, as well as in speech recognition, automated security gates and digital identity solutions.

Biometrics-backed digital wallet player ID.me has raised more than $8 million to support the shift to online business processes with ID scan and selfie biometrics checks. The company says it is currently signing up 60,000 new digital ID users a day to enable a range of transactions. Digital identity onboarding technologies from Jumio and Signzy have been selected by a fintech company and financial asset manager, respectively, to prevent fraud in online services, while startup ubble has raised more than $11 million to address demand for remote identity verification with biometrics.

eSignatures may not be as famous as Zoom or as controversial as facial recognition, but they are the unsung technology that has allowed large portions of the economy to remain open, enabling business to transact from home offices with trust, TechRadar writes. In addition to expected use cases replacing trust marks of various kinds, new use cases have arisen from the need to avoid shared surfaces, such as filling out forms at a hospital.

The potential impact of trusted online peer interactions based on decentralized digital identity is laid out by Evernym Strategic Engagement Director Jamie Smith, who joins podcast Brains Byte Back. From the inefficiency of the current fragmented digital identity landscape to the future of an address-book style app, Smith discusses the company’s vision, and why to think in terms of “credentials” rather than “identity” as such.

A digital identity system which is likely the strongest in the world has been a tremendous advantage to Estonia during the pandemic, according to the World Economic Forum. Benefits realized by the country include 99 percent of government services remaining online, efficiencies from digital health records and e-prescription services freeing up medical professionals to address the health crisis, and e-learning tools already in use at 87 percent of schools even before lockdowns hit.

Thales is also prominent in digital ID news from Africa this week, as it pitches the government of Congo-Kinshasa for airport ID checks and ID document issuing contracts. Editorials on Nigeria’s national ID system and scrutiny of biometric electoral systems in Zimbabwe and Ghana also made headlines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the urgent need for functional digital identity with total coverage to keep society functioning, Dr. Joseph Atick tells Biometric Update in an exclusive interview that cracked the most-read stories of the week. Social distancing is hard on communities with universal identity and strong social safety nets. ID4Africa’s webinar series makes clear that for developing nations, even communicating with people remotely is challenging, let alone reaching them with emergency cash aid or maintaining contactless economic activity.

Where bias comes from and how it impacts identity systems is explored in a guest post from Trust Stamp Chief Commercial Officer and Women in Identity Co-founder Emma Lindley. The way to mitigate bias in identity systems, Lindley suggests, is with a multifaceted approach taking in new kinds of teams, testing and communication.

No less than seven new contactless temperature screening systems have been announced over the past week or so, most leveraging biometric facial recognition for subject identification or mask detection. Fidentity, Creative Time Solutions, FeverScanners, Secureye and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have launched solutions to support business reopening, as public buildings in a U.S. city and mines in Chile announced two of the first live deployments of such technologies. A partnership in South Africa seeks to leverage similar technology to link fever checks to access control, and NEC is working with a consulting partner to design new touchless experiences.

Idemia has a new President and CEO, with Pierre Barrial promoted from within to replace Yann Delabrière after he held the position for just under two years. IDMission, Sandata and SITA also announced new appointments.

Quartz shines a spotlight on several industry bodies that represent facial recognition companies, including the SIA, the Integrated Justice Information Systems Institute, the IBIA, the Identification Technology Association. Of note, the Machines with Brains column starts from the perspective that “AI is upending . . . humanity.”

Police in California are dodging the responsibilities to disclose information about the surveillance technology they use, including facial recognition, by copyrighting the materials, according to a report from Vice. This tactic does not seem to be mollifying critics.

If there is an article, thread, video or any other content you would like to share with the biometrics and digital ID community, please let us know in the comments below or through social media.

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