Aviation sector investments in biometrics and digital health pass adoption feature in the most-read news coverage on Biometric Update this week as air travel slowly builds back towards pre-pandemic levels. Telos ID and SITA executives offer advice for the recovery efforts, and the Ada Lovelace Institute has advice for vaccine passports. Meanwhile Yinda Infocomm has continued its own investment in biometrics, pumping $8 million into Tech5.
Top biometrics news of the week
An in-depth explanation of what U.S. Defense is working on in the biometrics space was shared in a recent Security Industry Association event by DoD Biometrics Project Manager Colonel Senodja ‘Frank’ Sundiata-Walker. The state of work on multi-modal fusion matching, providing troops in the field with more information about who they are facing, and the increasing interest of DoD in voice biometrics were among the topics discussed.
The shut-down of the DC-area National Capital Region Facial Recognition System (NCRFRILS) in light of new legislation in Virginia comes just as a judicial decision in Brazil is rendered blocking the launch of a face biometrics system in a major public transport system. Privacy advocates had been pushing for transparency on the former, and provided an expert opinion in the court case against the latter.
Corsight AI CEO Rob Watts writes in a Forbes Technology Council post that the effectiveness of facial recognition with masked faces has improved rapidly, even over the past year. Ethical implementation requires more than selecting an effective algorithm, however, as “research and discernment” are required throughout the deployment, utilization and maintenance processes.
Tech5 has picked up another $8 million in investment from Yinda Infocomm, shortly after a $2.5 million commitment, as it continues its expansion efforts, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. The company also plans to put some of the funds towards research and development and increasing brand awareness for its face, fingerprint and iris biometrics.
Dermalog focussed on user-friendliness and cost-efficiency in the development of its Iris Face Temperature Camera, the company’s Head of Marketing Sven Böckler tells Biometric Update in a sponsored post. That focus resulted in a camera with a larger detection area than other similar cameras, with the high biometric accuracy of iris and multi-modal recognition.
A push into biometric digital identity by a bank for another application, specifically for air travel, has been launched in Korea, with palm vein enrollment in branches and boarding via a mobile app, in one of a series of new deployments in the sector. A $400 million investment in screening technology by an airport in Guyana, and the latest Simplified Arrival deployment have been announced, while Telos ID is calling for sectorial alignment on the term ‘digital identity.’
Senior IEEE member and University of Nottingham Cybersecurity Professor Steven Furnell discusses the growth of biometric technology adoption, and whether or not it has stalled, in an IT Pro Podcast. The discussion touches on consumer and enterprise biometrics, how multi-factor authentication really works, and where the technology is going. It may be indicative of the current state of public awareness on biometrics that Furnell answers the IT Pro hosts’ questions so often with “it depends how you implement them.”
Distribution of PhilSys cards has begun, as the country carries out its public education campaign to prepare for use in a range of services. Registrations for the Philippines’ national digital ID system have been boosted by its online sign-up launch, though those using it will have to enroll their biometrics in person at a later date.
The market for remote identity verification through selfie biometrics continues to mature, on both the regulatory and product sides, with the Swiss financial regulatory approving chip-scanning for biometric identity documents. Verify 365 has launched NFC document scanning, and iDenfy has unveiled an IP address screening algorithm, while Basis ID announced a customer win.
IATA’s Travel Pass has also added NFC scanning, and will trial the technology on flights between Japan and the United States. The trial comes as a SITA executive emphasized the importance of health data management to the sector, and Hawaii added semi-anonymous face biometrics technology from NEC to its health-screening process at State airports.
The Ada Lovelace Institute advises trust and clarity in a new report on digital health passes, or at least their vaccine passport variant. System design is also addressed in one of the six recommendations in the report, which warns that saving lives and protecting privacy together can be far from mutually exclusive.
Money pumped into the U.S. education system by the federal government for COVID recovery has created a tempting target market for tech companies hawking video-based surveillance solutions, including facial recognition, Vice suggests. The article notes a couple of companies going after that market, and cites a study indicating over-surveillance is an adverse factor in educational outcomes.
The deluge of fraud across the U.S., which has cost Texas $893 million that it is aware of is examined by NBC Austin affiliate KXAN. A Texas Workforce Commission official says that identity fraud has not slowed down since the beginning of the pandemic, creating a backlog of fraud holds, and it was to address those, rather than an attempt to catch the fraud itself, that ID.me was contracted. Curiously, the entire Dark Web is presented as a unified cybercriminal network, via U.S. Justice Department statistics.
Biometrics-based age checks have been approved for enforcing age minimums for online content in the UK in a new Online Security Bill. Children under 12 years of age, and up to 16 in the case of some apps, could be blocked. Social media companies are saying the measures will increase inequities.
Deepfake detection may be hindered by the same issue of skewed datasets that has plagued many other computer vision and biometric applications, according to a new study. Researchers found error rates as much as 10.7 percent higher between different genders and races with deepfake detectors, which worked best with white, male faces.
The state of the art in touchless 2D fingerprint biometrics was presented by researcher Jannis Priesnitz in a live online event held by the EAB. Priesnitz discussed techniques used to improve and assess image quality, and the challenge of making touchless systems compatible with touch-based ones.
Sensory Chairman and CEO Todd Mozer joins the Tech Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast for a wide-ranging discussion on both the evolution of neural networks and advanced technology, and how to build a successful business. He explains how the company’s vision of changing the way people interact with the digital devices around them led to early profitability, and some of the advantages of being a small company, particularly in the tech space.
Former U.S. Ambassador throws support behind embattled Toshiba board chair
TOKYO (Reuters) – Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos on Saturday endorsed the continued leadership of Toshiba Corp Board Chairman Osamu Nagayama, who has come under intense pressure to resign amid a deepening crisis at the Japanese conglomerate.
Both Nagayama and Roos served as independent directors at Sony Group Corp’s board when the electronic giant emerged from a turbulent earnings period to a sharp recovery.
“I am convinced Toshiba’s shareholders will benefit from him continuing to provide his steady hand and strong leadership,” Roos said in the statement.
(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
Image Credit: Reuters
China’s cryptocurrency-mining crackdown spreads to Sichuan
By Samuel Shen and Alun John
SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s crackdown on cryptocurrency “mining” has extended to the southwest province of Sichuan, where authorities ordered cryptocurrency mining projects closed in the major mining centre.
Cryptomining is big business in China, accounting for more than half of global bitcoin production. But the State Council, China’s cabinet, last month vowed to clamp down on bitcoin mining and trading as part of a series of measures to control financial risks.
Other popular mining regions, such as Inner Mongolia, have cited cryptocurrency mining’s use of electricity generated from highly polluting sources such as coal in orders targeting the industry.
Friday’s move in Sichuan – where miners mostly use hydropower to run the specially designed computer equipment used in verifying bitcoin transactions – suggests the crackdown is more broadly based.
The Sichuan Provincial Development and Reform Commission, and the Sichuan Energy Bureau issued a joint notice, dated Friday and seen by Reuters, demanding the closure of 26 suspected cryptocurrency mining projects by Sunday.
Sichuan is China’s second-biggest bitcoin mining province, according to data compiled by the University of Cambridge. Some miners move their activities there in the rainy summer to take advantage of its rich hydropower resources.
The notice orders state electricity companies in Sichuan to conduct inspections and make corrections, reporting their results by Friday. They are to immediately stop supplying electricity to cryptomining projects they have detected.
The authorities urged local governments in Sichuan to start combing for cryptomining projects and shut them down. It banned new projects.
Other regional mining centres including Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Yunnan have ordered crackdowns on bitcoin mining.
Friday’s notice appears to indicate that Beijing’s displeasure with cryptocurrency mining extends beyond cases where it uses electricity generated by burning coal.
“Renewable power does not help,” said Winston Ma, NYU Law School adjunct professor and author of the book “the Digital War”.
“The four largest mining regions – Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Yunnan and Sichuan – have implemented similar crackdown measures, even though mining in the latter two are mostly based on hydropower, whereas the first two are on coal,” Ma told Reuters.
Some miners have been considering moving elsewhere due to the crackdown.
(Reporting by Samuel Shen in Shanghai and Alun John in Hong Kong; Editing by William Mallard)
Image Credit: Reuters
Bitcoin falls 7% to $35,431.15
(Reuters) – Bitcoin dropped 7% to $35,431.15 at 20:02 GMT on Friday, losing $2,666.53 from its previous close.
Bitcoin, the world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency, is down 45.4% from the year’s high of $64,895.22 on April 14.
Ether, the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, dipped 8.66 % to $2,165.68 on Friday, losing $205.45 from its previous close.
(Reporting by Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese)
Image Credit: Reuters
Can fintech innovation really move economies forward?
We are now living in the thick of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), and with it has come an explosion of financial technology (fintech) innovation. Characterized by the avalanche of data produced daily, IR 4.0 brings about the complete disruption of many industries and their business models.
The banking industry has undeniably experienced many shake-ups. Technology has brought about the digitization of money, opening up numerous possibilities for fintech innovation, capturing value-added data insights while we’re at it. In and around Asia, fintech – the usage of technology to improve financial services – is booming.
Technology-led financial services are set to bring in US$11 billion in revenue in Southeast Asia (SEA). By 2025, it will account for 11% of total financial services in SEA, itself considered the fastest-growing region worldwide.
Asian fintech companies such as China’s Ant Finance and Indonesia’s OVO are already dominating the fintech landscape and despite setbacks like Ant’s failed blockbuster IPO, are showing no signs of slowing down.
As consumers are used to the digital experience offered by companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, they expect the same level of customer experience from their financial services providers. Fintech provides a very appealing alternative to traditional banks, as they provide customer-centric solutions that incumbent banks cannot provide.
At the recent Fintech and Blockchain session, Revolut’s COO, Richard Davies, the COO of global fintech super app Revolut that has been spreading its wings in APAC, stated that fintech is already poised to bring major economic benefits globally. According to Davies, there are a few key reasons why fintech is appealing to consumers.
Davies noted that 27% of consumers opt for fintech services because it is significantly cheaper compared to incumbent banks. An example is cross-border payments. Often, fintech offers lower foreign exchange rates, and does not come with any hidden fees.
For the tech-savvy consumer, fintech services are more efficient compared to those offered by traditional banks. Fintech apps, for example, often come with user-friendly interfaces that would seamlessly guide a consumer through the process that they are undertaking.
20% of consumers opt for fintech services because of the ease of setting up, with 12% of consumers siding with it because of better user experience.
Fintech product innovation
Because fintech companies do not need to contend with legacy staff and systems, they can afford to innovate relevant products quickly and cheaply.
Also, fintech companies often have a dedicated focus on fixing specific problems, and can, therefore, come up with tailor-made solutions for their customers. This is rarely possible for legacy banks as there is little room for agility –solutions are usually provided in a one-size-fits-all form.
Davies believes that we have already reached an inflection point for the mass adoption of fintech. This couldn’t be truer for Asia, whose fintech landscape is already vibrant and highly competitive. Regulators in the region are supportive of fintech, as can be seen in countries such as Singapore and Thailand.
Both countries have agreed to open up regulatory sandboxes that allow fintechs to test their solutions prior to bringing them into the market. Further, Singapore and Malaysia are also giving out virtual banking licenses that can make the operation of neobanks easier.
Ultimately, traditional banks need not fear technology. The willingness to adapt and collaborate with others will enable technology to serve all parties – banks, fintechs, and consumers- in the financing sector well.
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