20-year Anniversary Report: Laxton

Laxton: Beyond tomorrow. How biometrics is leading the way for revolutionary changes in travel, security, and the economy

What is the measurement (metrics) of life (bio)? Is it the impact on one or many? Perhaps, it is both. Biometrics has made a direct global impact – and over the past 20 years, it has indeed changed the world as we know. Whether it was an unthinkable act like 9/11 or an unimaginable time like during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen biometrics evolve and improve our lives. In a world that has shifted from a handshake to a smile behind plexiglass, we’ve learned to adapt. Biometrics can continue to help us acclimatize so we can fearlessly continue redefining our norm.

Evolution of border security – biometrics is not the exception

Border management is a hot topic. With upcoming changes for Europe’s Entry-Exit-System, attention is being given to how passenger tracking is happening. Without biometrics, the evolution of border security would have stalled. The tools to secure borders have had a tremendous global impact.

The European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems, eu-LISA, addresses changes in migration and relooks at how a person’s stay in a country is recorded to ensure databases are accurate.

Eu-LISA is set to play a crucial role in the technical implementation and development of interoperability of EU information systems, and will not result in the collection of more data, says the agency, but rather more intelligent ways of using existing data.[1]

Biometric technologies have evolved to become more user-friendly. Furthermore, on account of the improved accuracy of new systems, the potential for erroneous and potentially detrimental impacts on innocent users decreases. [2]

As biometrics cannot typically be lost or stolen, when combined with multi-biometric identification, it assists border management. Border control/security was ranked by the Biometric Institute[3] as in the top 5 top trends for the future of biometrics. This report also tells how face is the most expected modality in the next 5 years further supporting the importance of non-touch solutions

COVID-19 slowed the world and sped up changes in biometrics

Travel has changed. The ask for efficiency and safety has catapulted forward since the COVID-19 pandemic. For an unnerving period of time, travel came to a halt, but biometrics continued.

Recently, the focus of digitalization has shifted to security, data, and identity to further install trust. Before the pandemic, touchless biometrics were used, but demand has increased. Capturing biometrics can bring unwanted friction to a process. However, the prevalence of fingerprint and/or facial recognition used in personal smartphones has opened up acceptance to using an individual’s biometrics for other use cases. Changes in user needs require “smarter” solutions for travel. Biometrics as a service, interoperability, and seamless integration with existing (and evolving) technology becomes more relevant.

Travelers want options, and many businesses have adopted their software offerings using biometrics in mainstream applications to meet changing demands.

These features, exclusive to biometrics technology, provide greater security measures for intellectual assets as well as workplace and individual information in comparison to common user authentication including passwords, user IDs, single sign-on and other traditional access management methods. [4]

Growth for people = growth for a nation

For millions of individuals in developing nations, having a reliable digital identity has opened up access to services, and supported the growth of their economies. Well-designed digital ID not only enables civic and social empowerment, but also makes possible real and inclusive economic gains—a less well understood aspect of the technology.

Malawi needed a Digital Identity solution for its citizens. This project helped over 9 million Malawians obtain positive digital identities. The project was essential for the country and it was essential for the people of Malawi to access certain civil services, loans and grants. For the first time, when donors would give grants to specific individuals, they could now positively identify these people. When the system is reliable and consistent, the overall growth of an economy improves.

For example, digital ID could contribute to providing access to financial services for the 1.7 billion-plus individuals who are currently financially excluded, according to the World Bank, and could help save about 110 billion hours through streamlined e-government services, including social protection and direct benefit transfers. [5]

Biometrics used for digital identity brings forward opportunities. Malawi is an example of a developing nation positively impacted by biometrics. According to the McKinsey Global Institute by unlocking global economic value across our focus countries, digital ID could unlock the economic value equivalent of 3–13% of GDP in 2030.[6]

The implementation of biometric technologies by governments is happening. While there will always be challenges raised, we should also consider the good impact biometrics has. The more innovation, the more potential.

Where to from here?

What will we embark on in the next 20 years? Will biometrics continue to alter security, travel, and the global economy? Biometrics has earned a place in the safety, security, and growth of our world. Yet, we are still a long way from bringing this technology and its benefits to every person on earth.

[1] Biometric Update: EU eu-LISA industry roundtable to explore AI and biometric database interoperability, Aug 2021

[2] EU LISA REPORT: Biometrics in Large Scale IT, 2016

[3] Biometrics Institute Industry Survey 2020

[4] Cloud-based Identity and Authentication: BIOMETRICS-AS-A-SERVICE, Fujitsu-FrostSullivan, 2016

[5] McKinsey Global Institute: Digital identification: A key to inclusive growth, 2019

[6] McKinsey Global Institute: Digital identification: A key to inclusive growth, 2019

Laxton Ltd
Nick Perkins, President Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA)
+31 702 505 600

Joined in 2021

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

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