From fingerprints to voice sounds and facial patterns, we all have traits that are unique to us and no one else. These are called biometrics and when they are used to verify our identities, the process is called biometric verification.
Biological traits have been used in ancient times for verifying the identities of individuals like thumbprints on clay seals. Today, they’ve become digitized due to the invention of computers and databases that can easily capture and store data. Due to their high level of security as a result of individual uniqueness, biometrics has become a very important means of identity verification.
What is biometric identity verification?
Biometric identity verification is the process of confirming the identity of an individual through unique traits or characteristics (e.g a face) against a confirmed identity document (e.g a driver’s license). This is used in preventing individuals from taking unauthorized action on behalf of a person. It is basically an answer to the question “who are you?” in the digital space However, for biometric verification to be successful, biometric identification must have taken place.
Biometric identification is the process of capturing a person's features such as palm print, facial characteristics, fingerprints, retina, DNA, and more. Basically, carrying out biometric identification ensures that this data can be used for authentication at a future time. When information entered into the system during a later operation does not match the first data, the operation fails and indicates that there is a mismatch. This means the person is not who he or she claims to be.
Biometric verification is one of the most secure forms of identity verification because it cannot be imitated by another person or forgotten like a password. Also, the information used in biometric verification remains cannot be altered for life. This is why it has been embraced by most online platforms. Biometric verification has become one of the most common types of online identity verification.
How does a biometric verification system work?
Biometric verification systems work by using consistent biometric data. Just like earlier explained, a copy of the person's unique characteristics is first collected and stored in a database. After that, it can then be used for verification purposes in the future.
For example, if you go to open an account in a bank, it's likely they collect a passport photograph, fingerprints, or even a voice sample depending on the level of security necessary. When you return to access that account in the future, the bank would make use of the biometric data initially collected to verify whether you’re truly who you claim to be. They might take your picture and match it against the one in their database or check your fingerprints or voice. This may also occur if you apply for a loan.
During the process, new biometric data is captured and run against the one in their database for a match. If there’s a match, it indicates that you’re who you claim to be, if not, you’re flagged immediately as an imposter. The process is carried out by a biometric identity verification software using AI and machine learning. You can read more on the best verification software solutions in 2022.
Identity flexibility in today’s world has led to cloud technology being used to make biometric information portable and easily accessible. This ensures that businesses and organizations can use the data to perform biometric identification on customers regardless of their location. Although the security of cloud databases has improved over the years, it remains vulnerable to a degree. If there is a compromise, the data could be manipulated, therefore, undermining the reliability of the system.
Where is biometric verification used?
The use of biometric verification has increased by the day since Covid 19. This is because the pandemic reoriented the world to using online platforms, forcing companies to embrace biometric authentication for safe transactions. Using biometric identity verification, people can easily open an account, make investments and transfer money with ease and rest assured that no one else can carry out these activities using their account. In all, biometric verification gives both users and businesses optimal confidence.
Biometric verification is used across several industries today including:
1. Financial institutions:
Makes use of voice recognition to identify phone callers and other means like fingerprints to confirm access to accounts
2. Law enforcement agencies:
Enforcement agencies make use of iris scans, fingerprints, facial recognition, voice recognition, and more to track individuals in criminal cases and the overall justice system.
3. Healthcare providers:
Health identity theft is a pressing issue today and healthcare providers shave turn to biometrics to identify patients
5. Other government agencies
From voters’ registration to national passports and driver’s licenses, government agencies widely make use of biometric identity verification for several registration processes.
Why use biometric verification?
Biometric verification is widely embraced for online transactions due to its high security. It takes verification further than simple usernames and passwords, ensuring that fraudsters don’t have access to customer accounts even if they somehow lay hands on their login details.
Traditional methods of verification offer lower security and a high level of inconvenience. For example, login details are considered poor security because passwords could be obtained by third parties, or the customer themselves forgetting it. Knowledge-based authentication is arguable more secure but can also be hard to keep in memory for customers. Biometrics, on the other hand, is unique, difficult to replicate, forget or steal. They are also easy for customers to use and cannot be forgotten or lost like passwords.
What are the types of biometric verification?
There are several types of biometric details today that can be used to securely verify a user’s identity. Here is a comprehensive list of the most popular:
1. Facial recognition
Facial recognition is one of the most used biometric authentications due to its convenience and a good level of security. It takes advantage of the unique points on a person's face to confirm their identity. One of the largest users of facial recognition is Apple.
Apple Face ID technology scans and verifies the face of an individual trying to use the phone, matching it against previously collected facial data. Basically, the technology projects more than 30,000 invisible dots on a face and analyzes the depth map created from the face. High-risk businesses have made facial recognition and capturing an integral part of their customer due diligence processes.
Facial recognition is also used for physical security measures to limit access to buildings to only authorized personnel.
2. Fingerprint identification
Arguably the most common type of biometric authentication, fingerprint identification is used due to its convenience, reliability, and high level of security. Also, it has a good amount of historical success, causing most smartphone manufacturers to adopt the technology in recent times.
Fingerprints are hard to manipulate or replicate by fraudsters, and even times when it was beaten, sophisticated 3D printer technology was required.
3. Voice recognition
Voice recognition is also one of the biometric data that can be used for identity verification. A person’s voice can act as a unique indicator that can be used to clarify clients over a phone by financial institutions for example. Phone calls are one of the most common phishing techniques used by fraudsters to hack accounts. Voice recognition, more than other types of biometrics, can prevent this.
4. Iris and retina pattern recognition (Eye scanner)
Just like your fingerprints, voice, and facial attributes, your iris and retina have recognizable patterns that make them reliable biometric identifiers. An iris scanner can collect up to 200 unique biometric features or more, therefore, allowing them easily identify a false verification attempt.
Today, banks and countless top industries are making use of iris and retina patterns for security purposes like ATMs, or safes.
5. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) Matching
This biometric verification involves using data from the genetic material of an individual to verify their identity. It is mostly used during criminal investigations for forensic analysis. Basically, a suspect's DNA is matched with the DNA from the evidence to confirm their participation in a crime. Although very accurate, it is the most intrusive and expensive.
How do we use biometric verification at Youverify?
Youverify biometric verification solution helps you confirm the identity of customers through liveliness checks. First, the user is instructed to take a liveliness test following prompts from our app with their selfie camera. This is checked for fraud or manipulations using our robust AI technology. After that, the user then takes a picture of their ID document, which our AI once again, accurately extracts data from the document. The process eliminates errors commonly associated with entering data manually while creating an easy onboarding experience for users.
On completing the process, our software automatically compares the liveliness test data with that on the ID document for a match.
Here's exactly how it works:
You can now onboard customers and complete KYC using just their mobile phone numbers. Keep in mind that it has to be the phone number linked to their bank account and NIN. By collecting their phone numbers, our “Advanced Search” can help you retrieve other relevant information like their NIN, BVN and full data.
The implication is that businesses and organisations can now onboard customers with just their phone numbers and complete KYC with full compliance. This greatly transcends the current use of customers' phone numbers for only user authentication like OTP.
Advanced Search is available on our flagship product, YV OS, and only available to customers in compliance with Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).