Face Biometrics Taking Over Authentication and Age Assurance

By Chris Burt

Biometrics in support of reusable digital ID is a theme running through several of the news articles that drew the most viewers over the past week on Biometric Update. Worldcoin is cleared for a return to operations in Kenya, BT is planning UK government certification for its digital ID, and a webinar examined SpruceID’s work on California’s mDL. In a slightly different vein, a new partnership between Tech5 and Visa will work on delivering cash transfers from government to people digitally. Each involves contactless biometrics, mostly face. Face biometrics also feature in popular stories about Google’s new age estimation service, Thales’ ambitions in Indonesia’s smart capital city project, and emerging startup VNPay.

Top biometrics news of the week

Worldcoin has negotiated a return to operations in Kenya, resuming biometric ID verifications after a pause of several months to address the data privacy and other concerns of local regulators. Co-founder Alex Blania also explained the addition of face biometrics and a third level of assurance for World ID in a recent interview.

The EU appears to have set a new launch date for its biometric Entry/Exit System, which would avoid the potential hassles of introducing a new ID check process until after the Paris Olympics. October 6, 2024 is the target launch date. Ryanair is already complaining that the system is poorly managed, and Eurotunnel, which announced the new date, estimates that additional biometric checks will significantly increase processing times.

Canadian lawmakers have advanced a bill that would mandate age checks for online pornography to the committee stage. The bill does not specify the method of age assurance, which could be based on digital ID, identity document and selfie uploads, or facial age estimation. MPs voting against it say a broader set of online harms, such as gambling and violent content, should be subject to age verification.

Google has developed facial age estimation technology which is now approved by the UK’s Age Check Certification Scheme. The company has achieved EAL3 for age estimation and EAL1 for biometric presentation attack detection, though it has not officially launched the service or made clear its market plans.

A growing trend of the UK’s biggest businesses providing their own digital identity products continues with discussions between BT and the government on recognition for its EE ID app. The digital ID is secured with face and fingerprint biometrics, and BT is planning for it to become certified under the DIATF. Yoti CEO Robin Tombs weighs in on the UK’s maturing market.

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Officials with the California government and SpruceID discussed how the state turned to the open-source digital credentialing provider to build its digital wallet and mobile driver’s license in a GovTech webinar last week. They discussed the motivation to build a decentralized system and avoid vendor lock-in for the mDL, which uses iProov biometrics.

Tech5 formed a strategic partnership with Visa to work on digital identity, payments and other aspects of digital government ecosystems. Visa will integrate Tech5’s SSI-based identity wallet and contactless biometric technologies, with digitized payments to people from governments among the goals of the collaboration.

Thales has signed an MoU to work with Indonesia’s government as the country constructs its planned future capital city, Nusantara. Thales believes the project could present contract opportunities worth as much as $300 million for smart city technology, which often includes facial recognition.

A widely-cited statistic from America’s National Retail Federation that nearly half of the $94.5 billion in retail theft in the country in 2021 was attributable to organized retail crime disappeared from the group’s report earlier this month. The figure for total theft by the shoplifting mafia, it seems, was drawn from congressional testimony later admitted to be mistaken. As the Los Angeles Times points out, this figure has been used to support arguments about the necessity of facial recognition in stores that now merit reconsideration.

Sri Lanka is determined relaunch a tender for the contract to print its digital ID cards by the end of 2023. The government has also been preparing to enroll people for the digital ID, raising the fee registered photographers can charge for taking face photos to ICAO standards.

Digital payments startup VNPay has passed iBeta PAD testing and received ISO/IEC 27001 certification, as it positions itself to compete in the selfie KYC market. The company is a subsidiary of Vietnam-based VNLife, and briefly reached a $1 billion dollar valuation in 2021.

Burger King Brasil has teamed up with ad agency DM9 to turn facial recognition technology to the task of hangover analysis, The Drum reports. The “Hangover Whopper” marketing campaign promises customers a discount on the purchase best suited to counteract the effects of their holiday indulgences.

Please tell us about any thought leadership pieces, interviews or other content you think we should share with the people in biometrics and the digital identity community through the comment field below or social media.

Source: Biometric Update

Chris Burt is managing editor and industry analyst at 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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