Press release: New guidance on digital onboarding with biometrics

The Biometrics Institute has released a high-level overview of how biometrics intersects with digital identity onboarding to guide decision-makers considering, or already implementing, the use of biometrics in online sign-ups.

Online sign-up processes – or onboarding – have been part of the digital transformation landscape for some time. In low-security contexts, like social media, onboarding requires minimal identity proof from the new customer. In more sensitive contexts, like banking and government services, greater identity proof is required to link the digital service to a specific person. These contexts have until recently typically used in-person, rather than remote, sign-up processes.

Pressure to streamline onboarding experiences in these more sensitive contexts is building from different directions. Customers have raised expectations based on simple sign-up experiences elsewhere. And as COVID-19 has curtailed our ability for face-to-face engagement, a remote option has become imperative for many organisations.

Business functions which rely on in-person implementation have been impaired by the pandemic, while remote onboarding and service delivery have experienced dramatic growth in many areas.

The new paper from the international membership organisation is aimed at bodies considering the attachment of a digital identity to a human identity using biometric technology.

The paper covers:

  • The re-use of an existing digital identity
  • Considerations in the process of attaching a digital identity to a person
  • De-duplication – the process of ensuring a unique representation of a person
  • Watchlists for screening the opening of accounts
  • Guidance in formulating strategies
  • Making ethical and responsible decisions in biometric applications, with reference to specific sections of the Biometrics Institute’s Good Practice Framework

Isabelle Moeller, chief executive of the Biometrics Institute says, ‘Many of our members have had to pivot the way they do business since social distancing swept the globe. Our Digital Identity Group has poured its extensive expertise into this paper to guide our members in ensuring that where they use biometrics in remote onboarding, they do so responsibly. As with all our publications it has gone through a rigorous review process and presents a balanced view on the issues.’

Brett Feldon, head of the Biometrics Institute’s Digital Identity Group which authored the report says, ‘This paper provides clear guidance for decision-makers considering remote onboarding using biometrics. Anyone considering remote digital onboarding should get usable insight from it. The paper represents an important contribution in support of the global digital identity community, in that it provides clear, non-technical guidance for digital leaders.’

Jonathon Thorpe, digital identity general manager at Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), says, ‘The need to have a high level of assurance when creating a digital identity is critical to the remote onboarding process. As a Digital Identity Group member, the DTA encourages all organisations involved with digital identity to consider the paper’s good practices for digital onboarding in these remote, unsupervised scenarios.’

The Digital Identity Group includes experts from:

  • Govtech Singapore
  • Mastercard
  • Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Agency
  • UK Government’s Digital Service
  • Daon, Asia-Pacific

Biometrics Institute members can download the paper here. Members can also attend a free online member meeting discussing issues around digital onboarding with members of the Digital Identity Group on 12 May.



Notes to editors:

The Biometrics Institute is the independent and impartial international membership organisation for biometric users and other interested parties. It was established in 2001 to promote the responsible use of biometrics and has offices in London and Sydney.

With more than a thousand members from 240 membership organisations spread across 30 countries, it represents a global and diverse multi-stakeholder community. This includes banks, airlines, government agencies, biometric experts, privacy experts, suppliers and academics.

The Biometrics Institute connects the global biometrics community. It shares knowledge with its members and key stakeholders and most importantly, develops good-practices and thought leadership for the responsible and ethical use of biometrics.

For more information, please email Claire Fox Baron:


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