Daily Review: Biometrics – The Foundation of Inclusive Digital Transformation

With approximately 1.5 billion people around the world unable to prove their identity, inclusion remains one of the most severe economic and social issues across nations. Biometric technology is often seen as one of the most intuitive and potentially successful ways to shed light on invisible populations, all while making a place for the previously excluded in the new digital economy.

The biometrics market is expected to experience a substantial growth over the coming years. In fact, some estimates suggest that by 2021, the market will reach a value of $30 billion with its primary revenues shifting from the government sector to banking and consumer electronics.

Fingerprint sensors, in particular, are expected to be a major force with shipments forecast to approach 2 billion by 2021, reflecting an overall growth rate of 44%.

As biometric technology is believed to be the most convenient method of identification/authentication, the technology is rapidly gaining popularity in the financial services industry and beyond. Certain regions are already exploring the inclusive effect of biometric identification, while other markets are more focused on the other hallmark of the technology – convenience in the digital era.

Pick #1. How Biometrics Is Giving Identities to ‘Invisible Citizens’

Simprints makes portable fingerprint readers for charities around the world. It’s working with charities in Kenya to provide digital healthcare records for people in poorer communities, who don’t have any official documents. For each person who has their fingerprint scanned, an algorithm creates a unique ID, which can be linked to their health records. Health workers can access the information and update health records using an app on a cell phone or tablet.

The biometric technology is enabling a lot of charities and organizations to leapfrog a computer-based system and go straight from a paper-based system to a mobile system. – Alexandra Grigore, Co-founder, Simprints

Nicholas Mwaura, Head of Technology at the Kenyan community health charity COHESU, is working with a team of doctors and volunteers, using Simprints’ technology to scan prints and create one of the country’s first biometric identification databases.

Biometrics as a technology has completely changed our way of thinking, Mwaura said to CNN. He says Simprints is giving citizens without identities hope and access to a better-synced healthcare system. Without it, they’d probably stay at home and accept their fate.

Once someone is successfully enrolled they can easily visit a doctor – who can then access their entire medical history digitally.

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Pick #2. IBM Study: Consumers Weigh in on Biometrics, Authentication, and the Future of Identity

IBM Security’s Future of Identity Study surveyed nearly 4,000 adults around the globe. Here are some of the top findings:

  • Security is beginning to outweigh convenience. People ranked security as the highest priority, over convenience and privacy, for logging in to the majority of applications, particularly when it comes to money-related apps.

  • Biometric technology is becoming mainstream. About 67% of respondents are comfortable using biometric authentication today, while 87% say they’ll be comfortable with these technologies in the near future.

  • Millennials are moving beyond passwords. While 75% of millennials (respondents between the ages of 20 and 36) are comfortable using biometrics today, less than half are using complex passwords and 41% reuse passwords to access numerous accounts. Older generations showed more care with password creation but were less inclined to adopt biometrics and multi-factor authentication.

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