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SCANNING THE HORIZON: EMERGING MARKETS IN BIOMETRICS

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By David Orme, SVP, IDEX Biometrics ASA

 

By 2023, the global biometrics market is predicted to grow by more than 15%, to over $24 billion. Yet, despite many of today’s most commonly-adopted biometric technologies stemming from Silicon Valley, such as Apple’s Touch ID, only 30% of that growth market will come from North America. So, if it is no longer just North America where consumers are rapidly embracing the security of biometric authentication, where else in the world is the growth of the sector coming from? Surprisingly, much of this progress is taking place in emerging markets such as Latin America, Africa and Asia. Recent developments in these regions have shown they can rapidly incorporate biometric technology into country-wide banking, government IDs and retail programmes, without being held back by legacy technology and systems which have delayed wider biometric adoption across Europe and North America.

 

Disrupting the Asian retail market with a smile

According to a Technavio report, 36% of the global biometrics market growth will come from the Asia Pacific region. In this region, China is already ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to biometric-authorised payments. In fact, it’s being adopted so quickly that cash is fast becoming obsolete in urban China, where the mobile payments market is worth around $12.8 trillion, led by fingerprint-to-pay apps, roughly 50 times the value of the mobile payment market in the USA.

 

AliPay, China’s biggest payment app, from e-commerce giant Alibaba, has 870 million registered users on its fingerprint-to-pay service. The brand even recently launched a trial ‘smile-to-pay’ feature at a branch of KFC in Southern China, which uses facial recognition to identify the customer at a self-order terminal and automatically charges them via the payment app – meaning the store has no cashiers, no tills and near-instant order collection.

 

Futuristic biometric payment methods like this are increasingly disrupting the retail industry across Asia. Korea too is using biometric authentication to make the shopping experience faster and more convenient. Recently, a Seoul convenience store became the first in the world to have customers pay with a hand scan. This palm vein authentication self-checkout facilityfeatures an emerging biometric technology which scans the veins of a user’s hand to identify registered shoppers and requests payment from their account. Thailand is also incorporating biometrics into the shopping experience, with facial recognition at 7-Eleven stores identifying loyalty members, analysing in-store traffic and suggesting new products to customers.

 

It’s not just in retail where Asia is proving to be a leader of biometric adoption. India has launched the Aadhaar programme, the largest biometric-backed national identity scheme in the world. With this scheme, over a billion citizens will receive a unique 12-digit ID number, supported by fingerprint and iris data, which gives them secure access to welfare schemes and government services.

 

Developing government IDs in developing markets

However, while Asia may be leading the charge in biometric growth, it’s far from the only region where these technologies are transforming day-to-day activities. Across Africa, the national ID market is also maturing rapidly thanks to biometric data. Fingerprint and iris authentication methods are helping to synchronise the data from expansive populations while providing easier access to public services.

 

In Kenya, fingerprint authorisation has sped up the largest population registration programme in Africa. Its national ID project,Huduma Namba, has provided the government with a comprehensive central population database, leading to it being called “the single source of truth on a person’s identity”. Kenyans will be provided with a single fingerprint-backed ID card, for access to healthcare, to get a driving license, pay taxes, enrol in a public school, or even request access to the electricity grid.

 

Fingerprint scanning technology is also being used to empower farmers in Nigeria, where the ‘Anchor Borrowers Programme’, an agricultural subsidy, is now distributed via biometric ID cards. The digitisation of the scheme has seen all farmlands mapped to their owner’s biometric information. This has increased the efficiency of fund distribution while eliminating so-called ‘ghost-farmers’ from the database.

 

Latin America also sees the value in national biometric databases. Brazil’s electoral commission intends to register over 140 million Brazilians by the 2020 rollout of its biometric ID smartphone app, which it anticipates will reduce the risk of voter and benefit fraud. Residents, meanwhile, will be able to use the app to claim social security, and eventually integrate all ID documents into one app. Similar schemes are also underway in nearby Mexico, where the Sonora State Government recently adopted fingerprint authorised pre-payment cards to deliver benefit services.

 

The race for global adoption

Despite this growth in emerging markets, Europe and North America aren’t lagging behind in the race for global biometric adoption. In Europe, fingerprint recognition remains the dominant biometric growth sector and is expected to be worth $11.5 billion by 2023.

 

This growth is largely due to advances in security driving the demand for identification and payment methods secured by biometrics. Progress is fast emerging in the physical payment sector and, according to ABI Research, the biometric payment cards market is expected to see significant growth in Europe by 2021.

 

This year, credit card companies and banks across Europe – including Bank of Scotland and Société Générale – have already embraced the opportunity to trial fingerprint-embedded payment cards to provide their customers with greater payment security. Fingerprint authentication technology will reduce the risk of card fraud as the owner must scan their thumb or finger in order to authorise transactions. Banking with your fingerprint is on the rise in the Middle East too, where Emirates NBD bank has launched an automated banking terminal to open new accounts authorised by biometric signatures.

 

Over in the USA, they are already developing the next wave of ground-breaking biometric technology. The ‘behaviometrics’ market, which includes methods such as keystroke and gait analysis, is expected to contribute to more than one-third of the total American biometrics market and dominate industry growth until at least 2025. This emerging technology, which can monitor unconscious movements and gestures, is seen as a promising, unobtrusive method of multi-factor authentication, when paired with more traditional and secure methods, such as fingerprint recognition.

 

As more markets across the world move to a password and PIN-free future, supported by biometric technology, continued awareness of security measures is vital. Recent research from the European Payments Council shows fingerprint scanning still has the greatest customer adoption potential for biometric authentication. But alongside this positive attitude towards fingerprint authentication, for biometric programmes to continue to global expansion, consumers must be assured that their data is secure.

 

Fingerprint authentication increases this sense of security among consumers. With fingerprints, only certain data points, not the full fingerprint image, are stored on the payment or ID card itself, meaning biometric data doesn’t leave the card. This will inspire trust in new consumers from emerging markets so that biometrics can continue to enhance security and make lives easier in all regions, risk-free. Biometric tech providers must educate manufacturers and consumers on these security issues in order to drive adoption beyond North America and across the globe.

 

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How Digital Adoption Platforms can enhance digital transformation and customer experience in the insurance industry

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By Vara Kumar, CPTO & Co-founder, Whatfix

 

Like many industries, the insurance sector was prematurely hastened towards digitalisation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, digital adoption continues to be a key focus of many organisations to strengthen their fully or partially remote workforce with nearly 50% of IT spend being put behind the growth of core applications and infrastructure, and an additional 25% being invested into digital solutions.

But with millions of claims processed every year, needing to provide superior customer service to drive retention, complex procedures and processes to navigate and both internal rules and external regulations to follow, digital transformation plans for insurance organisations are filled with challenges.

Increasingly digitalised workforce

With the pandemic came an overhaul of how we work. Remote and hybrid working is now the norm, and across most industries, there’s been a huge expansion in both the number and type of digital applications used to communicate, collaborate and enhance productivity across an organisation.

For the insurance industry, this has meant that every employee, from underwriters to customer service agents, has had to adapt to handling their steps of the process, from setting up coverage to filing a claim, remotely, and across multiple platforms and tools.

The challenge is ensuring this more digitalised workforce fully understands how to successfully navigate each application effectively and efficiently to ensure they can deliver on their services and customer experience (CX). But putting together a skilled, high-performing IT team can be difficult – according to an enterprise study, 54% of organisations said they’re not able to accomplish their digital transformation goals because of a lack of technically-skilled employees. This is further complicated by the fact that, in an age of labour shortages, the sector is forced to get creative and find ways of managing the workload and navigating new technologies with a smaller workforce.

Changing customer expectations

On top of the challenges that the increasingly digitalised workforce is experiencing, the tech-savvy customer of today also expects more from their insurers. Indeed, the pandemic forced customers as well as organisations to become more IT-literate, and in the customer service space in particular, customer expectations are high.

Customers today want and expect to be able to make maturity or house insurance claims in an efficient and straightforward manner, across multiple platforms, from phone to email to social media, preferably in a matter of minutes.

McKinsey observes that improving the value chain from the customer’s point of view is an important step within digital-ecosystem efforts, and HubSpot found that 90% of consumers expect an immediate response to a customer support issue, with 60% defining ‘immediate’ as under ten minutes. Even pre-pandemic 44% of customers were comfortable utilising chatbots for insurance claims, and 43% were comfortable using them when buying insurance policies.

Undergoing a digital transformation on the customer side is crucial then, as insurance providers that can meet these changing customer expectations are more likely to attract and retain customer loyalty now and in the future. However, just 30% of insurers believe that they have the capabilities to fully digitalise their customer experience.

So, what can insurers do to meet the technological demands of a digitalised workforce and a multi-channel CX for tech-savvy customers?

Using DAPs to boost digital transformations and CX

In a rapidly changing market, Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) can be a huge advantage to insurers looking to manage the challenges of today and come out on top. A piece of instructional no-code software that sits as an additional layer on top of other software applications, such as Claims Management or Policy Administration Systems, to help train and guide users on how to best use the software, DAPs can massively improve the agility and effectiveness of business processes across an organisation.

On the employee side, for example, DAPs can help insurers to manage challenges of a frequently changing workforce by making it easier for employees to get to grips with new digital applications. With the likes of  guided walk-throughs and task lists, which help employees through each step they need to know and just-in-time nudges to reduce policy administration, claim, or underwriting processing times, employees are more efficient and technology adoption is streamlined and accelerated. Easy to integrate into existing systems, DAPs can be used to not only train and onboard new employees but also upskill veteran workers, training the workforce as a whole on the latest technologies being used across the industry. As a result, everyone from underwriters, claims, and service representatives will better understand insurance tools that will enable them to be more productive and better deliver customer experiences leading to better business outcomes. Indeed, from the customer perspective, DAPs can enable companies in the insurance industry to keep CX positive and smooth. Firstly, by training on near real-life scenarios and secondly, by being able to more easily navigate applications, processes and systems internally, customer service representatives will be able to spend more time and focus on the customer and on resolving their queries, without being hindered by technological hurdles. For example, errors made in policy or claims processing can be reduced if employees can use self-help elements of DAPs to mitigate issues and solve queries themselves, in real-time. As a result, customers will be happier with their service, and more likely to stay loyal to that brand.

Customer-facing platforms can also be improved using DAPs. Typically, legacy apps whether on our phones or online, can make it difficult for users to complete their tasks, leaving them frustrated. With DAP user-specific content and just-in-time support, such as pop-ups, automated walk-throughs and user guides for every part of the user journey, customers can experience a smoother journey and have their queries and issues resolved more efficiently..

Drive efficiency and customer satisfaction

DAPs are already growing in popularity, with Gartner predicting that by 2025, “70% of organizations will use digital adoption solutions across the entire technology stack to overcome still insufficient application user experiences.”

So, now is the time for insurance providers to leverage this technology to facilitate their digital transformation plans. By ensuring their increasingly dispersed and digitalised workforce can use the latest applications to their full potential, and that their customer journey is as efficient and easy-to-use across the multiple channels customers expect, insurers will see huge benefits, from increased efficiencies to improved customer satisfaction.

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Are cyber insurance and incident response budgets the same thing?

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Dominic Trott, head of strategy – UK, Orange Cyberdefense

 

Cyberattacks on businesses increased by 13% in 2021 compared to the previous year. Yet while it’s not necessarily the case that the number of bad actors is increasing, it is the scale on which they’re operating that has broadened exponentially.

In addition, the manner in which cyberattacks are being carried out has also evolved. While some cybercriminals hack for fun, the vast majority of malicious activity is, unsurprisingly, conducted for financial gain and targets organisations on the basis of two simple principles: first, where there is the most value to be targeted; and second, where the attacks are most likely to be successful.

It’s also likely that the full extent of the cybercrime landscape is hidden. Accurate data on the impact of cyberattacks is often hard to come by because, in many cases, the breached organisations are unaware of the full extent of the attack – or even that one took place. They might genuinely not know this information if they don’t have accurate oversight of their digital estate, or keep quiet for fear of incurring legal liabilities or causing reputational damage.

The current security landscape has created the perfect storm for cybercriminals, as cyber insurers and Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT) often end up fighting over the same budget. Traditionally, it has been relatively easy for firms to obtain cyber insurance coverage at low premiums. However, the heightened cyber risks and exponential growth of ransomware attacks in recent years has led to premiums rising.

The question that businesses often ask, therefore, is ‘why do I need an incident response retainer when I already have cyber insurance? Surely, it’s a waste of money? If the worst does happen, the insurance company will pick up the bill for any damage done after the event’. I would argue that is a short sighted and potentially dangerous approach. Let’s look at the different roles of incident response and cyber insurance.

  1. Cyber Insurance: like other types of insurance, this aims to give businesses a way to ensure that if the worst happens, they can recover some of the costs. Cyber Insurance will likely cover you for some of the tangible costs associated with a breach, but it probably won’t cover all of them. By acting quickly and limiting the scale of the breach, you may be able to reduce the full impact. In addition, some insurance companies will expect you to have demonstrated a level of preparedness before accepting your claim – a bit like having a burglar alarm or dead-bolt locks on your house before a house insurance claim is accepted.
  2. Incident Response Retainer: aims to provide rapid, on-demand expertise in an emergency if the customer calls them immediately after an incident. The key to mitigating the impact of any cybersecurity incident is the reaction time between detection and response. Many companies lack the infrastructure needed to react in a quick and secure manner. Having an incident response team available 24/7 to identify, contain and eradicate threats and to get businesses back up and running as soon as possible may be crucial to their ability to continue successfully trading.

 

Cyber resilience

But isn’t incident response included in the insurance policy? In many cases, it will be. And perhaps this is where the confusion comes. Cyber insurers will often pay out, but only as long as the incident is covered by an incident response retainer. Their objective is of course to help cover the financial losses that result from cyber events and incidents and in numerous policies, the presence of a retainer agreement with an external incident response provider can help prevent severe losses. This will often bring down the premium of the insurance policy. Having a retainer also means you get to choose the CSIRT team that you are going to be working with in advance. You can assess their credentials, their experience, talk to their other customers – all before an incident occurs.

The key thing here is building cyber resilience. Of course, there is no such thing as complete security. For starters, incident response alone is insufficient to deliver cyber resilience from either a technical or procedural perspective. Good practice advocates that solutions should be in place across the full threat lifecycle. For example, the NIST framework recommends that organisations identify their threats and vulnerabilities; protect against them with security tools and operations; detect threats as they address the enterprise; respond to contain and remediate an incident as it occurs; and recover to take lessons learned from incidents and improve ‘business as usual’ appropriately.

But, leaving an end-to-end approach to threat lifecycle management to one side, having both cyber insurance and an incident response retainer working seamlessly together will at least provide organisations with a fighting chance of continuing their core business functions if and when disaster strikes.

 

Making cybersecurity a joint enterprise

There are worrying trends emerging in the cybersecurity market. While attacks are becoming more sophisticated and ransoms are rising, there are concerns that there might not be enough money in the still-emerging sector to cover everyone’s needs. So, what can companies do? They should still invest in insurance coverage, but they also need to look for other ways to cover their potential exposure, including CSIRT rapid response teams.

It cannot remain a budgetary decision for a CTO and a CFO to fight over whether to firefight OR recoup what has been lost in cyber-attacks. Both are important. An incident response team is the first port-of-call to help respond to any cyber accident or incident. Then and only then – once the breaches have been made safe – should you call in the moneymen.

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