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SCANNING THE HORIZON: EMERGING MARKETS IN BIOMETRICS

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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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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