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6 things you might not know about biometrics

Author: huifan   Time: 2021-01-19

6 things you might not know about biometrics

Biometric technology has broad prospects and may become the future of identity recognition and identity verification. However, as described in the previous blog post "Biometric Balance in Digital Finance", biometrics is a complex and evolving family of technologies. If we want to make full use of their advantages to promote financial inclusion, it is very important to understand their advantages, limitations and appropriate applications. Biometrics is an extremely complex technology. If improperly implemented, it is usually not obvious, which leads to loopholes that can be exploited to promote fraud. Regarding biometrics, here are six things you should know.

1. Fingerprint biometrics are different from fingerprints

Biometric identification is not the same as what it represents. Fingerprint biometric technology is the representation of multiple points on a fingerprint and the relative positions of these points. The same basic principles apply to all biological characteristics, and the quality of biological characteristics varies. A biometric technology containing 20 or more points will be considered high quality, while a biometric technology containing only 4 or 5 points will be considered insufficient. When a biometric is stored, it is called a biometric profile of a person. Since the contour is close to the fingerprint, the same biological characteristics can be generated for different people. When someone successfully matches someone else’s profile, this is a false positive.
Huifan facial recognition device

2. Financial service providers can use biometric technology for customer registration and identity verification

When capturing a person's biometric information, it can be used for identification (when the financial service provider (FSP) carries the customer) or for verification (when the customer wants to access the service). These are two very different use cases, as shown in the following two points.

3. Before using biometrics to identify someone, you need a national biometric database

It is difficult to identify a person by capturing biometric data (and verify whether his or her identity is different from that of other people). This can only be done if there is a centralized biometric profile database that can be compared with the captured biometrics (this is called a "1:N" match). Therefore, unless there is a national biometric database available to customers, biometrics cannot be used for unique identification.
Even with a suitable database, biometrics are usually not reliable enough to support identification. When the British police used it to try to identify "people of interest" in a crowd, it produced an alarming false positive rate of over 90%, requiring a lot of human intervention. The reason for this is the biometric archive database, which is much smaller than the total population of 65 million in the UK. Of course, when the quality of captured biometrics is low, the percentage of false positives will rise rapidly. Therefore, if only five points are captured, the probability of false positives is much higher than when 20 points are captured.

4. Biometric authentication is more direct than identification

Identity verification is more direct and reliable than access identity verification. Identity verification is to confirm a pre-established identity for accessing services. Identity verification does not attempt to match a person to the entire population, but compares newly captured biometrics with previously captured and stored biometrics for that person. If they match with high confidence, it can be said that the person's identity has been verified (this is called a "1:1" match).
Of course, authentication requires access to the original biometrics for comparison. This is usually the purpose of a national ID card, which either points to the biometric file to be used for comparison or saves the file itself. This is also the mechanism used to verify the identity of e-passport holders.
Service providers who wish to use biometric national identity services for continuous identity verification usually create "derived identities"
When FSP provides services to customers, if such services exist, it may try to use biometric national identification services to identify customers. This requires capturing the biometrics of potential customers and comparing them with the national identity service with biometrics held by the same person (1:1 match). If there is a match, the service may publish some other attributes for the customer, which can be used for customer due diligence. 
After completing this process, the FSP may issue a digital identity that is derived from a national identity that the customer can use in, for example, a digital bank. This may include biometric files that customers can use to verify their identity when logging into banking services. In each case, FSP performs a 1:1 biometric matching. Did not even try 1:N match.

5. No biometric technology can serve everyone

The type of biometrics used by FSP should be suitable for its customer base. For example, it is well known that if most people who are registering for financial services are manual workers, live in a dusty environment, smoke or are over 50 years old, fingerprints are not reliable. It is difficult to use voice on mobile phones, because cheap phones often have poor microphone quality and may not be able to capture the full human voice or hiss.
HFSecurity face recognition device
In addition to physical factors, personal and cultural sensitivity can also affect the availability of certain biometric technologies. For example, various vein biometrics that require you to put your finger in a test tube are generally undesirable. Iris biometric technology is not popular because people are quite sensitive to their eyes.
Therefore, services that rely on biometrics do not necessarily use only one biometric. On the contrary, an approach like Aadhaar in India may be more appropriate. During Aadhaar registration, all 10 fingerprints and two irises will be captured simultaneously. In order to make the service available to everyone, facial biometric information is now being captured.

6. look forward to


Biometrics can be a powerful set of technologies when providing services in environments where identity fraud or a large portion of illiterate or countless environments may occur. Although biometric technology is not easy to use, a better understanding of its operating methods, advantages and limitations will greatly improve its effectiveness.


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