20-year Anniversary Report: FacePhi

FacePhi: Humanising technology: Biometrics as part of our daily lives

When was the last time we thought about how new technologies were integrated into our lives? In recent years, we have rapidly adopted devices and tools that have digitised much of our daily lives. Smartphones have become an essential instrument for relaying and accessing information about our environment in an immediate manner. On the other hand, the IoT has allowed, in addition to sensorising our homes and turning them into smart homes, to develop a wide range of application possibilities on a larger scale, for example, more and more cities allow us to access public transport and mobility services through simple applications and the reading of codes on our mobile devices.

Accepting a greater presence for technology in our environment has been a natural process, which in these advances has encountered a way to simplify daily tasks and improve our quality of life. For years, both experts and market developments have pointed to biometrics playing a leading role in the digitisation of our society, which is an important responsibility for development companies.  The creators of identity verification technology are driving its adoption with great success, but perhaps the same effort is not being put into spreading knowledge about biometrics. It is a technology so tied into people, and thus should be perceived as a practical, safe and non-invasive tool by society, and now the time has come to take that step and connect with people in their dual role as users and citizens. 

We have seen our identity verification solutions go from being a tool almost exclusively requested by banks and financial groups to entering various sectors and achieving a much broader positive social impact. During the health crisis due to Covid-19, digital onboarding and authentication technology reached the health sector, for example in the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, helping patients to carry out procedures without using cards, paper documentation or in-person interactions. Months later, biometrics would allow the collection of pensions in Argentina by introducing a biometric recognition system for retirees to provide ‘proof of existence’ with a simple mobile application from the safety of their homes. This success story in the silver economy has recently been emulated in Nigeria, where biometric technology is helping the public to collect their benefits through 100% digital identification. 

These projects have had the common characteristics of showing that biometrics is more than a tool to improve the customer experience, highlighting its ability to be inclusive with all types of users -an aspect that our company considers essential. It is important that algorithms avoid discriminatory behaviour towards certain groups due to biases related to sex, race and age; all this complemented with the contribution of accessible, safe and useful digital environments in their day to day lives. Biometrics need to generate great confidence in the end user, who authorises the use of identity identification technology in a conscious way. This concept of ‘ethical biometrics’ is what allows us to bring technology closer to users and put to rest concerns about practices such as mass video surveillance or unwanted image capturing; This is the way in which we can make biometrics be accepted with the same naturalness as smartphones or voice assistants in our homes. 

The next few years will be decisive for the incorporation of digital identity verification systems into relations between citizens, companies and public administrations. For this reason, we must become more than technology developers: We must be disseminators, transferring to public opinion the advantages and opportunities that biometrics offer. The time is now, at a moment in which digital identity verification systems begin to be introduced as an alternative to documentation at airports, as a means of payment in shops and as a form of access to various public services. We are at a true turning point with respect to the normalisation of biometrics, as we have seen after our entry into projects for the travel and transport sector, or the development of smart cities such as the one that the Korean government will promote on the island of Jeju. 

Being able to show the positive impact of biometrics, avoiding misinformation and clearing up the doubts of citizens and public administrations is a part of technological development that we cannot ignore. Biometric technology is on the way to becoming part of the daily lives of millions of people, and this reality not only presents us with a great economic opportunity, but also with the challenge of humanising it. 

Javier Mira, CEO and Founder                                                                                                                    
Joined in 2018

Applications and use cases | Privacy and policy | Research and development | Technology innovation

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