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The Many Benefits Of Contactless Biometric Acquisition And Authentication Technologies In Covid-19 Era


Never was there a time when contactless technology was more important than now with the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world. Noting that the chief method of transmission of the virus is through contact with infected persons and surfaces, people are obligated to keep a measured distance from other people — a behaviour termed ‘social distancing’ — and are even less keen to have anything to do with surfaces.

Read more about COVID-19

This new way of life has its many effects on industries and sectors all around the world, and most are negative. Businesses will need to restructure their activities and choice of technology to accommodate this new shift in behaviour and quickly find a way to combat safety concerns or struggle to survive during and post COVID-19 era.

This change is even more for businesses that acquire biometric data of their customers as a means of proof before availing them with certain services. These businesses must think beyond biometric data acquisition and authentication that requires physical contact with people or surfaces — Hence, way beyond fingerprint recognition which is the most common means of identity verification right now.

Even though one might argue that disinfecting the fingerprint recognition sensors may or may not get rid of the virus completely, one should also ask “how about the customers that are reluctant or sceptic about putting their fingers on a surface they deem virus-ridden no matter how many times it is wiped down? Are business owners or agents to turn them back? What then does that do to customer acquisition or the bottom line of the business?”

Thinking way beyond fingerprint will leave us with Facial and Iris Recognition.

Biometric technologies that provide facial and iris capture and verification services come into play to enable secure, touch-free data acquisition (digital identities) from the medically-advised distance and authentication to reduce the risk of impersonation or fraud. These technologies will serve to flatten the curve by preventing further infections and encourage business continuity.

The Many Benefits In Diverse Sectors

If the world were ever to be so ‘open’ again, businesses and even the government must jump aboard the idea of contactless biometric acquisition and authentication technology. Its usefulness spread across multiple sectors and industries.

For one, in the aviation sector, adopting a contactless facial and iris recognition system to authenticate digital identities of passengers, instead of having them place their hands on a scanner as they pass through the gates, will ensure the safety of aviation workers and passengers. These technologies could even go further for contactless visa onboarding and authentication at borders or immigration centres.

Telecommunications companies will need contactless biometric acquisition and authentication technologies to enable their agents to collect and validate biometric data of new subscribers during SIM registration processes or authenticate biometric data of current subscribers before providing them with certain services, all done while maintaining necessary distance.

Security companies can arm their guards with one of such technologies on a mobile device to serve as a digital logbook used to document people who enter or exit an estate or building.

The usefulness of these technologies goes far and beyond — from banks utilizing them to safely acquire customers in the field to schools authenticating students before they enter into exam halls to healthcare admin workers enrolling patients from a distance to government agencies enumerating staff in a secure way… the list goes on and on.

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These technologies besides protecting against COVID-19 will hasten customer onboarding processes and improve turnaround times.

Enabling Features And Add-on Services

Viable contactless biometric acquisition and authentication technologies must take into consideration:

  • KYC compliance standards by various regulatory bodies.
  • Failsafe verification and validation.
  • Customer onboarding time.
  • Data security.
  • Ease of use and service.

Some enabling features will include:

ID Match

This will be useful to carry out a facial match/comparison of the images on biometric ID cards against the faces of end-users, in real-time, to rule out impersonation.

Liveliness Detection

This will help prevent fraudulent cases of ‘still picture capture’ by detecting that the image to be captured is indeed that of a live human being.

Background Cleanup

This will be useful to analyze captured facial images, carefully crop out the noisy or non-uniform background, and impose a plain white background without impacting the image.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

This feature will facilitate the touch-free extraction of textual details from a physical form or ID document and populate the corresponding digital fields automatically.


This will be useful to ensure uniqueness of biometric data by scanning through the local database to flag data duplicates within the configured business rules.

SDKs and APIs

It becomes even easier to adopt these contactless biometric acquisition and authentication technologies as most of the verification services are packaged as Software Development Kits (SDKs) and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that can be integrated into already existing systems. With these, organizations will not be burdened to overhaul already existing processes and can continue using their solution with additional verification services and features that will allow the solution to perform various biometric authentication.

Featured Image Source: Demalog

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