Biometrics Growth Draws Investment in Online ID, Credentials and Law Enforcement

By Chris Burt

Huge investments in biometrics for identity verification and ID documents dominated the headlines on Biometric Update this week, with claiming the industry’s latest major funding round and Mühlbauer tapped for a major ID card contract in Europe. With slightly less money involved, an EUDIW pilot will be run by a consortium including Gataca, Switzerland is upgrading its AFIS, IdentiTek will make Albania’s passports and ID cards. Tech5 shared its vision for a near-future of safe and equitable digital identity in an EAB presentation.

Top biometrics news of the week

A huge biometrics funding round took place quietly amidst controversy, has revealed. The company announced the $132 million investment, along with the appointment of a new CFO to help make sure it is spent wisely. Like the controversy, the dollar figure reflects’s rapid growth during the pandemic, which necessitated increasing its staff headcount at a breakneck pace.

India’s identity authority has partnered with an academic institution to develop an in-house software for contactless fingerprint scanning on mobile phones. An MoU signed by the UIDAI and IIT Bombay indicates they will work together on technology to capture biometrics and check the liveness of multiple fingers at once, and integrate it with Aadhaar.

Switzerland has budgeted $27 million for a new multimodal ABIS, that can match suspect’s faces, but does not violate the country’s restrictions on facial recognition, according to Fedpol. Swiss police use the current AFIS 340,000 times each year, including the checks they carry out for international law enforcement and border agencies.

The UK National Physical Laboratory and police in London and South Wales have determined that operator initiated, retrospective and live facial recognition can all reduce crime without harming human rights. Their joint simulated service tests carried out with NEC’s Neoface showed a  false match rate of 1 in 6,000  with a database of 10,000 face templates, with a true positive identification rate of 89 percent at a threshold setting of 0.6 for LFR.

Mühlbauer leads a consortium that plans to produce Bulgaria’s new biometric ID cards this year, under a 10-year, $134 million deal. Old cards will be accepted until they expire, but the new version will be accepted for international travel, authorities say.

Armenia is working towards resuming issuance of its biometric passports, with procurement for the passport and national ID under a PPP on now. IdentiTek has won the contract to make Albania’s passports and ID cards, meanwhile, and plans to bring down fees.

Zimbabwe’s government is planning to streamline birth registration and the issuance of passports and ID cards while digitizing government services. The system could be operational this year, according to government minister, and will leverage mobile phone ownership for easier access to services. The Health Ministry is being drafted to funnel births to the country’s civil registry.

Banks and other financial institutions in Europe say the planned EU digital ID should leave out payments. That would allow eIDAS 2.0 to prioritize the effectiveness of the EU Digital Identity Wallet for other application areas, and avoid making the project much more difficult for the financial sector, according to a collection of trade organizations.

Large-scale pilots for the framework will test the EU Digital Identity Wallet for Electronic Attestations of Attributes, QEAA, and sharing educational and professional credentials. Atos and decentralized digital ID startup Gataca are part of the DC4EU consortium running the $21 million program, along with numerous public agencies and academic institutions.

An IdentityNORTH event this week looked at Canada’s progress towards decentralized digital identity as  foundational infrastructure for the digital economy, while an Okta white paper examines public service delivery in Australia to make the case that governments everywhere should deploy ‘citizen identity platforms’ from the cloud.

The role of America’s DMVs as de facto identity authorities, and how mDLs change it, was the subject of a webinar featuring  Arizona Department of Transportation’s Eric Jorgensen and hosted by iProov’s Ajay Amlani. The agencies are trying to address a long-standing reputation for slow service while under-resourced by utilizing biometrics.

Tech5 Chairman Rahul Parthe presented the company’s vision of combining DIDs with biometrics to give people control over their own data privacy while providing the level of assurance needed to prevent fraud in an EAB event. Cryptographic technology allows for centralized issuance of digital wallets that cost less than smartcards, and are W3C-compliant with decentralized verification.

Mitek has collected 79 statistics that illustrate how important identity verification is today and why it will become even more so in the years ahead. Analysts have found that trust in biometrics to prevent fraud and data breaches is growing and authentication practices are changing, driving more deployments, but other trust challenges remain.

Please let us know about any articles, podcasts or other content we should pass along to the people who work in biometrics and the broader digital identity community in the comments below or through social media.

Source: Biometric Update

Chris Burt is the editor of Biometric Update. He has also written nonfiction about information technology, dramatic arts, sports culture, and fantasy basketball, as well as fiction about a doomed astronaut. He lives in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @AFakeChrisBurt.

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