Before viewing the variety of biometric solutions in different industries, let’s figure out what biometrics actually is. “Bio” means biological while “metric” is measurement. Accordingly, biometrics is a biological measurement. The technology enables a person to be identified and authenticated through a complex of recognizable and verifiable characteristics that are always unique. This data includes all of the biometric traits such as fingerprints, palm prints, voice, facial measurements, iris, and even the gait of the person.
2017 became a turning point in the global adoption of biometric technologies, and we could not put this topic aside. In this article, we are going to introduce some of the most widespread current applications of biometrics.
Current applications of biometrics
Biometrics is being employed in a wide range of industries. It is impossible to provide an overview of them all within one article. That is why we are going to focus on the most popular fields where biometric solutions come handy.
There is an increase in the acceptance of technology in various fields such as banking, airports, law enforcement, healthcare, etc. Taking into account how vulnerable these domains to data breaches, the necessity for biometrics as a high-precision protection tool is evident.
As of today, almost 10 billion records have been stolen.Gemalto Breach Level Index
New research shows that society really doesn’t mind utilizing biometric identification methods. Having surveyed 1000 individuals, on 10 May 2018 the Center for Identity at the University of Texas reported that people are comparatively positive about the technology. Nearly 68% of respondents were quite comfortable with giving biometric information to an organization. However, their comfort level varied depending on the type of information given. Individuals tended to have the most positive attitude to fingerprint scans rating at 58% among respondents.
What are the core domains for biometrics application?
Financial institutions in general
Employees of banks, credit unions, and other financial establishments have always had a problem handling numerous passwords they need for work.
For instance, Verifast, a product from Fiserv is a biometric authentication technology that uses palm scanning. Its technology is well-known as “palm vein scanning.” Individual places their palm above an infrared light illuminating the veins in their hand – vein patterns are unique to the individual. The system links the pattern to the client’s identity and confirms the client’s identity in a matter of seconds during follow-up visits.
Vein patterns typically have five million scannable reference points and are stable throughout everyone’s life, thus the system is highly reliable. Moreover, the scanning is not hampered by the hand cream.
We also would like to mention biometric door entry systems. Their benefit is in giving access to people who are allowed to enter restricted areas in the workplace. As biometrics enables security to be completely comfortable, the demand for this kind of door entry systems is constantly growing.
Banking in particular
Banks are increasingly adopting biometrics around the world to authenticate clients. Most bank clients expect smooth access to services. Passwords fail to meet these expectations, so biometrics can be a tool to solve the problem.
For example, Visa laid out a ‘Future of Security Roadmap’ where biometrics underlies validating electronic payments. The organization is cooperating with the FIDO Alliance that improves the roadmap with the help of fingerprint and iris scanners, voice and facial recognition. Moreover, according to the roadmap. the consumer device cardholder verification method (CDCVM) supports biometric technology enabling account holders to validate transactions themselves through their phone or another device. Visa has also recently started conducting pilot experiments of cards having a built-in fingerprint reader.
The security roadmap has been previously launched in Australia and is planned to be extended to other countries.
However, Visa was not the first credit card company to deploy biometrics. In 2017, Mastercard started testing a fingerprint payment card at Pick n Pay supermarkets in South Africa. On 23 January 2018, Mastercard announced that their cardholders would be identified through fingerprints or facial recognition when they make purchases by April 2019.
Being extremely effective for security purposes, biometric technology is widely adopted by the police. Most often they turn to fingerprints, iris, walk, facial and voice recognition. The swift implementation of biometrics has significantly changed the global police and security field.
One of the recent examples of biometrics being used by the police is an automated multi-modal biometric identification system (AMBIS). It detects fingerprint, palm print and iris scan information of criminals as well as random finger- and palm prints taken at the crime scenes.
According to Global Healthcare Biometrics Market Forecast 2018-2028, The Global Healthcare Biometrics market was valued at $1.63 billion last year. This number is predicted to increase to $5.02 billion in 2023 and it is anticipated to reach $14.65 billion in 2028. The Compound Annual Growth Rate for the US Healthcare biometrics market from 2018-2028 is predicted to be 22.3%.
Biometrics is being used for patient identification, authentication for access to healthcare information, and remote care where biometric sensors can provide important patient information without the necessity for in-person clinical evaluation. National identity cards for ID health insurance programs are typically widespread in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
These biometric ID cards help use fingerprints to identify the cardholder before providing them with access to government or medical services to avoid fraud.
In Gabon, for instance, the identification of insured patients is done through individual health insurance numbers. The smart health insurance card also contains civil information, a snapshot of the cardholder and two fingerprints.
The card is valid for medical institutions and pharmacies to verify social security rights while protecting personal information. The verification procedure involves terminals equipped with fingerprint sensors.
Thousands of people in Sweden are having biometrical microchips implanted under their skin in order to avoid permanent carrying key cards, IDs, and even transport tickets. Around 3,000 individuals in Sweden have gone through the procedure since 2015 when it was first conducted, Agence France-Presse reported.
Future perspectives for biometrics
Undoubtedly, biometrics has a lot of potentials to replace present authentication technology. However, there are a lot of steps to take and some additional security layers are necessary for better commercial viability.
It is important, however, to remember that using only biometrics without a PIN code or other verification methods is ineffective. The policies should guarantee that a fingerprint or face ID alone cannot endanger the integrity of the system and that security policies for storage, encryption, and even biometric rotation are in place.