An Interview with Biometrics Company, BioConnect
Could you tell us a little about BioConnect and your mission?
BioConnect is on a Quest - for Rightful Identity. Why? At BioConnect we have a fundamentally different approach to “identity.”
On the day we are born, we are issued a piece of paper with our name on it, signifying the start of our “ identity." From that moment on, we collect more of these little pieces of our identity - paper, cards, usernames… and its fragmented across different channels. This has only amplified as the digital world has come into existence.
At BioConnect, we believe that your identity does not lie in something you know, or something you have - your identity is something you are. We all have characteristics that are unique to us, called biometrics, and we want to empower people to authenticate with these features; whether that be face, eyes, fingerprint, the way you walk or the sound of your voice -- any biometric type for that matter.
How exactly does BioConnect work to develop a ‘One Person, One Identity’ platform for it’s users?
The average person has at least 9 different identities. As a result, we see things like $3.7 trillion worth of fraud in the system(1), people being entirely excluded from the system, unable to open a bank account because they don’t have an “identity” and also an enormous amount of operational friction that comes from trying to prove you are you (ever forgotten your password?)…
A wave of biometric technology came into the world in the early 2000s and with it a more exact measure of a person’s identity; However, what industry leaders, including our Founder & CEO Rob Douglas, realized is that the infrastructure doesn’t “speak” biometrics… it speaks card numbers, PINs, username/passwords.
How do you change that, while also being aware that flexibility and choice are needed in verifying identity? Our experience developing integrated biometric authentication solutions has pushed us to promote the importance of flexibility and choice in verifying identity. We’ve developed a platform, the BioConnect Identity Platform that acts as the translator of biometric information into the world’s existing infrastructure - no matter the biometric type, no matter the device, no matter the identity authority and no matter the application. The platform comes pre-built with our existing integrations “to the door” and we also have an API/SDK for software development teams to plug into various applications.
(1) $3.7 Trillion of Fraud in the System: http://www.acfe.com/rttn/docs/2014-report-to-nations.pdf
Cybercrime is becoming ever more prevalent; both in terms of large scale attacks on banks and their many customers, as well as individual identity theft. How is BioConnect equipped to tackle broad and varied identity validation based threats to individuals and institutions?
Today’s credentials leave room for fraud because there is no way to have certainty of identity. In fact, one recent study by Verizon announced that 63% of hacks were due to stolen credentials (2). Biometric identification is very different from traditional identification in that no two people share the same biometric data. Unlike a key, card, PIN or password, you can’t borrow someone’s biometric identity because it’s unique to you as a person. And as a result it’s a much more dynamic method of identification than your traditional password.
We’re working with banks, FinTechs, financial services companies in order to incorporate biometric authentication. And as we talked about in our joint post with Visa, eventually we hope to get to a world where we can eliminate passwords for good.
(2) Hacks due to stolen credentials (Verizon): http://info.idagent.com/blog/63-of-data-breaches-result-from-weak-or-stolen-passwords
To many the idea of being free of endless cards, keys, password and fobs would be a very welcome improvement to their lives. How does BioConnect envisage the future of identity validation? And what work has to be done to get to this point?
What has to happen for us to get to a point of one person and one identity is both a technology and culture change.
We believe that biometrics alone are the way of the future and provide greater security and convenience (that’s why we call it our “Quest for Rightful Identity”), but also realistically know there there will be a period of time for which many of our customers and partners will want options and the use of multi factor authentication with biometrics plus another more traditional credential like a PIN or password in order to provide choice for their customers.
We also recognize that we have to take into consideration the education, unique preferences, habits and cultural attitudes of all the parties involved. So like any new technology, we can’t expect it to change overnight.
As we also mentioned, another problem is that the infrastructure doesn’t speak biometric. It speaks card numbers, PINS, etc. We’re fast developing partnerships in order to change the infrastructure and enable biometrics from a technology perspective. Ubiquitous devices (like your phone) are really opening up the doors for technology enablement which is certainly facilitating the growth at which this technology can be consumed.
Finally, how do you view BioConnect’s role within the wider Financial Technology industry?
Every element of the financial technology industry needs authentication. Today authentication is a static painful event, and with the proliferation of FinTechs, the standard of a username and password, or a PIN# just won't cut it. Our goal is to enable biometric authentication, but as we’ve said, it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. It’s an infrastructure problem. On top of that, there are MANY different types of biometrics - and no one biometric type is “best” for every situation.
Consumers want to decide whether to capture their fingerprint, be prompted to speak, scan their eyes, or maybe enter a password for the time being. Merchants and banks also need choices in the way that consumers are authenticated – from who you are to what you do, anywhere across the globe, using any device. How do you choose? There is no “one size fits all” solution because we need to consider choice. And with the nature of financial services we also cannot ever compromise on security which is one of the strength of biometrics, being that they're unique to people. We see our role as being the biometric experts -- the biometric translators allowing our partners to really focus on their niche; creating really great technology and BioConnect is the biometric enabler.
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First published on Company Connecting December 2016