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The future of the biometric smart card: Five predictions for 2019

By Stan Swearingen, CEO of IDEX Biometrics      

 

“Biometrics” has been the buzzword on everyone’s lips within the payments industry this year, and an influx of pilot schemes has confirmed that the biometric revolution is no longer a distant fantasy, but rather a pressing reality.

Following a number of successful trials using fingerprint sensor technology within smart cards across multiple markets, (including Bulgaria, the US, Mexico, Cyprus, Japan, the Middle East and South Africa) the biometric smart card is reaching its inflection point. Key players within the banking industry, including Visa and Mastercard, are already heavily invested in this new payment technology and anticipate that biometrics will play a key role in the revolution of the payments industry.

With mass market rollout on the horizon, here are five key predictions for the biometric payment industry in 2019.

 

2019: The year of dual interface

The first half of 2017 reported 937,518 cases of financial fraud, resulting in losses of an astonishing £366.4 million[1], a clear demonstration that the PIN is no longer fit for purpose. Recent research from IDEX Biometrics supports this claim and found that 29% of consumers surveyed felt concerned about the use of PINs to keep their money secure, and as many as 70% believed that contactless payment cards left them exposed to theft and fraud. As consumer concerns continue to grow around the security of payments, so too does the need for a personalised, secure and convenient payment solution.

Enter the biometric dual interface payment card. 2019 will see biometric fingerprint sensors integrated into cards with both a micro-processor and contactless interface, removing the need for PINs. This will provide consumers with the reassurance that their money is safe as any transactions will require their finger print to authenticate it. 2019 will be the year of the dual interface where biometric authentication will be available for both contact and contactless payments!

These advances in technology and those within the payments market have meant that the concept of biometric authenticated payments is no longer a novelty. In fact, according to forecasts by Goode Intelligence, nearly 579 million biometric payment cards will be used globally by 2023[2]. The integration of the biometric sensors in the payment card will be one of the next-generation transformative innovations to breathe new life into the payment industry next year and assist in the fight against payment fraud.

 

Remote enrolment will be the key to mass market adoption

For mass market deployment of biometric smart payment cards to be possible in 2019, banking infrastructures must look at the implementation of biometric technology and ensure that this method of enrolment is accessible and convenient to all. The elderly or those with physical health limitations may struggle leaving the house to enrol within bank branches and even those who work a 9-5 day can often find making it to the bank within opening hours a challenge.

The latest advancements in remote enrolment of biometric payment cards will mean that enrolment for biometric payment cards can take place in the comfort of your own home. Card users will be able to enrol straight onto the card by simply placing their finger on the sensor (with the aid of a small device that comes with the card) to upload their print to the card’s highly secure EMV chip. There is no need for an external computer, smartphone or internet connection. Once loaded, the fingerprint never leaves the card, thus eliminating multiple attack points.

 

Biometric payments will bridge the gap to financial inclusion

In 2019 advances in biometric fingerprint authentication will be a vital ingredient when bridging the gap to financial inclusionCurrently, 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked across the globe today[3]. This is for many reasons, from immigration issues, to illiteracy as well as mental health. Those living with dementia are also at risk of losing their financial independence as their short-term memories decline. A fingerprint sensor on the card can take the place of a PIN or even signature, meaning sufferers are able to stay financially independent for longer.

Currently those who lack access to financial services are missing out on the many benefits financial inclusion has to offer. Fingerprint authentication will remove the barriers that face those with literacy challenges, or face difficulty with memory, as card payments will no longer be about what you know, or what you can remember, but who you are.

Biometric authentication will be a simple, secure and convenient solution eradicating the need for passwords and PINs as a form of authentication. For this to work as a solution to financial inclusion, banking infrastructures and card manufacturers must work together to reach a price point that enables this technology to be available to all.

The possibilities for biometrics are endless…

While biometric authentication technology is already being used with smartphones and passport identification in the UK, 2019 and beyond will see endless possibilities for the use of biometric smart cards into payments and beyond. We can even expect to see biometrics branch into the Government issued identification and IoT enabled devices arenas.

In fact, a whole host of public services is set to benefit from this secure means of authentication. The use of biometric smart cards within the NHS, for example, could see access to sensitive patient records limited only to the patient themselves. Biometric social benefits cards could control how the money is spent and that it is spent by the right person. According to IDEX research, 38% of consumers surveyed would like to see biometric methods of authentication introduced to wider government identification including driving licenses, National Insurance numbers and even passports.

 

The future of the biometrics – 2019 and beyond!

In 2019, authentication will get even smarter, and further technological advances such as multi-modal or multi-factor authentication will further enhance security within the payments landscape. This refers to technology that combines a variety of different types of biometrics in order to add an additional layer of security, including persistent authentication. For example, instead of having one single authentication, smartphones could continuously scan features to ensure the correct person is using the device.

Whilst the biometric dual interface smart payment card is set to hit the mass market next year – this is just the beginning. The payment card of tomorrow will go beyond just transactions. Biometric smart cards will serve multiple purposes – a payment card, a form of ID for restricted goods and even a loyalty card!

The early days of biometrics where it was felt to be invasive and a privacy concern are long gone. In fact, according to recent research from IDEX, 56% of consumers surveyed state they would trust the use of their fingerprint to authenticate payments more than the traditional PIN. Further to this, 52% would feel more confident if their fingerprint biometric data was stored on their payment card, rather than a bank’s central database.

Consumers are ready for the use of biometric fingerprint methods of authentication for card payments and 66% expect their roll out to authenticate in-store transactions in 2019. We predict that by 2019 biometric smart payment card adoption will go into many millions!

 

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Finance

AI: CUSTOMER FACING EMPLOYEES’ BEST FRIEND IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY

By Ryan Lester, Senior Director, Customer Experience Technologies at LogMeIn

 

We’ve all heard the old saying “money talks.” Well when it comes to customer loyalty and retention, good customer experience talks much louder, with 30% of customers leaving a brand and never returning due to a bad experience.

The truth is, there are a lot of companies with similar products and services, but that doesn’t mean that differentiation is impossible. So, what’s the solution? For financial services, large and small, customer experience is becoming the key competitive differentiator and the best way to deliver an impactful experience is to empower customer-facing employees to do their best work. Artificial intelligence (AI) is enabling these employees to create remarkably better customer experiences, resulting in customer loyalty, advocacy, and overall growth.

For financial institutions that have been considering new strategies for improving the quality and efficiency of their customer experience, here are a few ways AI can enable them to deliver the “human factor” that good customer experience demands whilst ensuring customer facing employees can provide a more positive experience for customers.

 

Increase employee productivity

How much of employees’ time is spent searching for answers to questions? Do they ever have to put customers on hold or even step away to get additional help? AI helps provide front-line employees real-time guidance so they can spend less time looking for information and more time solving problems. An AI-powered chatbot, for example, can be listening in the background of a conversation helping point employees to the right data, solutions, and processes to resolve customer issues faster than ever before.

 

Deliver a consistent customer experience

When banking customers engage with their financial institutions, they measure the speed and accuracy of the service through two criteria. First, how quickly can the system access their account and deliver the correct information? Is it faster than a human could type it in and share it? And second, if they eventually do need to be connected to a live customer support agent, is their information captured and passed along accurately? AI technology takes those general queries off the customer support team’s plate, providing a quick, accurate, and effective response. If a query needs a more in-depth response, AI can hand it off to support staff to address.

Not only this but leveraging a centralised, AI-powered knowledge solution ensures every employee has access to the same, updated information, so no matter who the customer speaks to, they can be assured that employee responses are both consistent and accurate across the board.

 

Accelerating employee training and onboarding

Like any industry, employee turnover is inevitable and can be costly. But, not training new employees correctly or in a timely manner could be much more costly. When it comes to financial services there is a lot to learn, whether it is something simple like the process for checking an account balance to all the nuances associated with mortgage loans. AI can support on-the-job training by helping new employees answer questions confidently, correctly, and much quicker than they could before.

 

Improving employee satisfaction

Today’s banking customer has all kinds of new ideas about their banking experience. “The Amazon Effect” has successfully raised consumer expectations to the extent that a consistent, personal, and relevant experience is the new normal. As a customer, how many times have you been told “I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer?” Customers want solutions to their problems and employees want to be able to deliver those solutions as efficiently and effectively as possible. AI assisting in the background helps minimise those negative moments – making employees job easier, less stressful, and overall more enjoyable.

 

Identify knowledge gaps

Do you know all the questions employees are getting asked? Do you know what’s easily answered and what’s not? Real-time insights allow knowledge managers to keep up to date on frequently asked questions and gaps in current resources. This allows them to strategically improve or add content where needed.

 

Augmenting customer service

Whether talking with an AI chatbot or a personable customer service team member, the modern banking customer has high expectations for convenience, speed, and security. Which means that the technology you choose to deploy and how you deploy it is now just as important as who you hire and how you train them.

Today’s AI solutions won’t replace customer service agents or get in the way of the human factors that drive the customer experience. On the contrary, they augment it, allowing the business to do more without adding human resources. The higher the quality of a AI chatbot solution, the better it will be at taking the routine requests off the plate of customer service agents—giving them more time to provide a personalized and positive experience for customers.

 

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Technology

BEFORE THE INK IS DRY: CORRECTING BIOMETRIC SPOOFING MYTHS

Eric Setterberg, System Design Engineer at Fingerprints

Biometric authentication is highly robust, and the latest solutions offer considerably greater security than their authentication predecessors: PINs and passwords.

But as biometrics moves into new areas such as payments and access control, privacy and security concerns are rising. Biometrics has long been subject to scrutiny, with many elaborate examples of people working to trick biometric sensors to crack devices in the media and online.

To ensure the continued adoption of biometrics, it is important to shine a light on the reality of biometric spoofing.

 

The Evolution of Biometric Solutions…

The first use of fingerprints as forensic evidence was in an Argentinean court case in the late 1800s. With the technology still in its infancy, this was done manually and by eye, comparing latent residual prints lifted from crime scenes to charts of inked fingerprints obtained from the suspects at arrest.

A few decades later, the FBI began collecting fingerprints of criminals and civilians. They also introduced the automated comparison of fingerprints by computers in the 1970s. These “traditional representations” have now been standardized by ISO and ANSI.

… and their Spoofs

The earliest and simplest of these matching devices were easy to spoof. Really, all you needed was a photocopy or a good image of a fingerprint to make a successful spoof.

But as biometrics moved to more advanced technology, the game for biometric ‘spoofers’ has changed and the task of crafting fake fingerprints is considerably more difficult.

The biggest boost for biometric security, however, came with its introduction into mobile phones.

 

How Mobile Changed the Game

Before the widespread integration of fingerprint sensors in smartphones, the technology underwent significant evolution. No operator wanted to use large biometric sensors in modern phone designs. Sensors had to become much smaller to reach the perfect price and design point for the mobile world, but this meant needing to capture data from a smaller surface area of the finger.

To maintain the security of these smaller sensors, algorithms evolved significantly in order to utilize a greater amount of data per unit area. These mobile-driven hardware and software changes resulted in the optimized image capture of modern touch sensors.

As a result, tricking these systems now requires a considerably higher level of detail to be reproduced correctly for a match to be successful, far beyond rudimentary gummi bear spoofs and photocopies

 

Setting the Perfect Spoofing Scenario

Compromising fingerprint authentication via spoofing can still be done, even with all the technological advancements. However, it now requires considerable care, skill, money, and time. And to start, a good latent print…

To retrieve a latent print that’s high quality enough to work, you either need a willing volunteer to lend you their finger, or the commitment to stalk a victim until a viable fingerprint can be retrieved. Even with a decent latent print, modern spoofs then require advanced photoshop skills and/or a lab to successfully convert latent prints into effective moulds.

So – what about those articles boasting how easily they have hacked the latest smartphone device’s fingerprint sensor?

In fact, there are only two instances of fingerprint spoofing seen in the media nowadays: proof of concept and cooperative spoofs. Lay enthusiasts and media go through the effort of setting up a lab to create spoofs with latent fingerprints either from themselves or cooperative volunteers. Even the most successful of these take months of work, a highly skilled team, and the perfect scenario of circumstances.

Put simply, the effort required for spoofing modern fingerprint sensors cannot be applied at any scale. Each biometric spoof needs to go through the same laborious process and clinical conditions. So, if you can bring together a willing group of spoofing enthusiasts, tricking a biometric device could earn you fifteen minutes of fame on the internet, but it is likely to be conducive to a successful criminal business plan…

 

A “How” Without a “Why”

Spoofing biometrics remains technically possible, and there will always be those up to the challenge of trying to hack the latest technology. But the reality is that modern biometric solutions require more time, skill, and frankly, luck, to successfully spoof than ever before. Not to mention that tireless R&D work is continuously strengthening spoofing resistance. And, as use cases start to combine multiple biometric authenticators, such as combining fingerprints with face or iris to perform an authentication, spoofing will only become more complex.

By comparison, hacking PINs and passwords is considerably simpler and more scalable, making it far more lucrative. And, criminals generally take the path of least resistance.

For the average consumer, greater use of biometric authentication is not only a means of simplifying authentication, but dramatically improving the security of their devices, applications, and personal data. With PINs and passwords still the most common authentication method outside of mobile, it is imperative that the true security and advanced nature of modern biometric authentication solutions are understood.

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