Blog

Biometric Identity Verification

August 2021

The idea of using biometric data as an official identity tool has been around since ancient times, with fingerprints in clay or wax being used throughout history by various cultures to verify letters and documents and transaction records, but it's only in relatively recent history that any real global standards or methods have become commonplace. The principle of biometric identity verification stems from the fact that there are certain physical characteristics that are unique to each individual and that the recording and comparison of these is an accurate way to distinguish one person from another. First becoming widespread in the justice system through recording the fingerprints of criminals, its use has expanded rapidly in scale, scope and sophistication over the past hundred years to improve identity systems in all manner of industries. Many of us will be familiar with iris scanning in passport control, facial recognition services in the entertainment and hospitality industries, or even simple fingerprint recognition to unlock smart devices.


The benefits of modern biometric identity verification systems are readily apparent. Being electronic, such systems are much faster than analogue alternatives, with machines being able to work round the clock and process data much faster and more accurately than a human ever could, and with less need for breaks or resources. Likewise, using machines removes any human bias or prejudice from the review process. With this increased efficiency comes a reduced cost, and a reduction in aggravation for those being verified as faster and more simple verification for their experience leads to a reduction in waiting times and queueing or even just having to remember fewer passwords. Alongside this, biometric identity verification is more secure than other verification methods; finding a password or forging a signature is easier than replicating a person’s unique biometric footprint, and it’s harder to hack than other methods like passwords. 

 

Although there are benefits, there are also issues with using biometric identity verification. Whilst harder to hack than a password, it is possible to hack biometric identity systems, depending on how sophisticated they are. There are instances of systems using fingerprint, voice and other biometric data being hacked, and we have to imagine that criminals will keep evolving methods to try and keep up with new security measures so, although it’s a vastly better system than previous ones, biometric systems aren’t entirely foolproof. Combined with this, centralised services requiring biometric login, or working with biometric data, provide an enticing honeypot for hackers looking to steal such personal data; it may be a simple thing to change a password if an account is hacked (although finding out if it’s been hacked is another matter), but changing fingerprints or irises or your face may just be that little bit harder! This leads us on to another potential issue for biometric solutions – what to do when injury or circumstance causes a change in a person’s biometric data (something as dramatic as an accident requiring facial reconstruction or as banal as ‘wrinkly fingers’ temporarily obscuring fingerprints for phone logins). One particular problem that may be more prevalent in people’s minds at the moment is the difficulty some types of recognition (such as facial recognition) can have when people are wearing face masks or other obscuring materials – even hair and glasses have been known to cause issues for some systems. 

 

Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate these issues, and it’s these types of enhanced solutions that Blockpass seeks to implement with biometric identity verification options. The first step is to include multiple forms of biometric identification. Two factor authentication is more secure than a single password and the same idea proves true with biometrics. Not only does this give a higher level of security, but it also provides a degree of flexibility. In addition to this, Blockpass is always looking to explore the most promising new developments, such as video recognition which combines facial and voice recognition for a new level of security. Importantly, Blockpass also enables channels of communication between users and merchants, ensuring that even if an issue does arise, there’s an easy means to resolve it. Furthermore, Blockpass doesn’t store users’ biometric data – all the data is on the users’ personal mobile device – so there’s no centralised honeypot of data for hackers to target. For Blockpass, verification is the name of the game, and we constantly explore new and improved opportunities – both biometric and alternative – so we’ll always be working to expand and implement the best solutions.

 

Blockpass has grown significantly in size and use since its inception, both in the number and range of users and organizations it has partnered with, and the scope of its work. Blockpass continues to develop its digital identity protocol with updates and additions to improve the compliance experience. The existential need for DeFi projects to be regulatory compliant and the recent integrations have led to a surge in interest for Blockpass’ On-chain KYCTM solution which promises to change the way blockchains enable compliance. Its recent integration with TrustSwap expands Blockpass’ services to a whole new raft of businesses and solutions.