The Latest Governments-Powered Initiatives with Biometric Identification

The growth of the biometrics market

The biometrics market is expected to see a substantial growth over the coming years. 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%.

HID Global, an American manufacturer of secure identity solutions, believes that biometrics is the only authentication method that binds a myriad of digital and physical credentials to a person. As such, biometrics plays an important role in eliminating digital identity theft in increasingly complex and vulnerable digital environment.

According to the company’s estimations, by the end of 2016, total revenues for biometrics supplied to the global banking sector will reach $2.2 billion. Moreover, the company expresses confidence that the financial biometrics market will eventually account for almost a third of total biometrics market revenues globally by 2020.

The latest international government-powered initiatives with biometrics

Given that biometrics are expected to see a substantial adoption, a wide range of initiatives around the world have been launched to leverage the opportunities biometrics for identification bring. Some banks already have turned to biometrics in various ways and may ditch the passwords in 2016.

Saudi Arabia to gather fingerprints of mobile phone users

In order to curb mobile phone users from engaging in activities that 'threaten national security,' the Saudi Ministry of Interior recently passed the new law under which Saudi Arabia will fingerprint anyone looking to buy a SIM card as a security measure. The fingerprint data will be shared with the kingdom’s National Information Centre to confirm the identity of the buyer who purchases a SIM card.

As the London-based Saudi newspaper al-Hayat was informed, The first phase of the fingerprinting scheme is being implemented from today [Tuesday, January 19th, 2016]. The decision was taken last year but implementation has been delayed until this year because some of the mobile phone companies working in the kingdom had to get fingerprint-reading equipment from outside Saudi Arabia.

With the new law passed, all mobile phone companies are required to comply with the new rules on purchasing SIM cards.

The new law is not the first attempt by Saudi Arabia to make a shift towards greater security with biometrics. Back in 2014, the Saudi government announced plans to build one of the biggest biometric centers in the world, which will contain the eye, facial and finger imprints of almost 30 million people.

Adil Al-Aid, an expert on biometric identification systems, said the Kingdom is embarking on this initiative ahead of most countries, notably Arab and Islamic countries.

The Ministry of Interior is seeking to build a world-class and highly efficient database containing the biometric features of both citizens and residents through representation by the National Information Center (NIC), said Al-Aid.

Hungary issues ‘one-stop’ biometric eID cards

In mid-January, Hungary launched a new electronic identification card scheme, which includes biometric and eSignature options.

Although issuing began on January 4, the sources report that within five business days, more than 39,000 people have applied for the card. The document will be valid for six years for citizens over the age of 18 and for three years in the case of minors. Citizens are promised to receive their cards within eight days of submitting their application.

Described as a one-stop card, the eID combines personal identification including fingerprint data, social security and tax identification information. At the launch, Istvan Ignacz, Head of the Central Office for Administrative and Electronic Public Services (KEKKH), said the card was developed in a world record of two months.

Biometric ID Cards in Turkey

One of the recent initiatives with biometrics for identification was launched by the Turkish government. The Turkish authorities have begun the distribution of new biometric identity cards in the Central Anatolian province of Kırıkkale, which was selected as the pilot province for the program. The new chip-enabled smart cards will replace the old versions, which were bigger and contained no information beyond the basic facts printed on them.

Biometric cards will contain tight security standards to hinder duplication, falsification and forgery. According to the Electronic Authentication System’s website, the biometric cards will be able to hold up to 1 GB of information, including the user’s finger and palm prints. The new cards will be valid for 10 years.

Biometric e-Passports in Pakistan

In order to curb rampant forgery of traveling documents and human trafficking, the Pakistani government will be issuing e-passports powered loaded with biometric information. The digital documents would be fully available by 2017.

A microchip with all biometric information of an individual would be embedded in each e-passport to help authenticate the identity of the traveler. The passport can also accept additional information that may be required in the future and can only be added by the Pakistani immigration and passport authorities.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the Interior Minister of Pakistan, has observed that forgery and misuse of Pakistani traveling document was a matter of serious concern and had immensely damaged the national image. He believes that the methods and sophistication through which human traffickers were forging passports needed to be curbed and the introduction of e-passports that can neither be forged nor copied would be the most important step in this regard.

Green Bit and Jordan’s eID Program

In March, Green Bit announced that the MultiScan527, an Appendix F certified and Appendix P compliant palm Livescan, has been selected by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT) for fingerprint enrollment in Jordan’s eID program. The MultiScan527 will be installed in more than a hundred civil status and passport offices where citizens will be registered with the National Registry.

In addition to the capability to capture subject’s fingerprints, MultiScan527 can also scan both the upper and lower parts of the palm, and ensure that all sections of the hand correspond with the others.

This is yet another great deployment for Green Bit Livescan technology and we’re very glad to support the Jordan authorities in this groundbreaking eID initiative stated Sergio Rainero, COO of the Green Bit Group.

Aadhaar by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)

Although not a recent project (launched in 2009), India’s Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number issued by the government that contains biometric and demographic data of residents, stored in a centralized database. Aadhaar has been one of the most remarkable initiatives internationally since its inception. In fact, in 2015, it was already the world's biggest biometric ID programme.

Each Aadhaar number is unique to an individual and remains valid for life. The Aadhaar number provides access to services like banking, mobile phone connections and other governmental and non-governmental services in due course. The number serves as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.

Aadhaar-enabled biometric attendance systems (AEBAS) was introduced in government offices two years ago and is aimed at tracking late-arrival and absenteeism of government employees.

As the program expands in scale - it needs time to cover the 1.25 billion population in India - and in use cases, Aadhar is establishing itself as a catalyst for faster innovation, not only in FinTech, but in many other industry sectors.