Growing security concerns, Aadhar linked services, penetration of smartphones and Internet, along with a market of billion-plus population, sets India as a hot-bed of opportunity for innovative biometrics enabled solutions.
From unlocking a smartphone with a quick fingerprint scan to opening the secure vault of a bank with an iris scan, biometric technology is witnessing an increasing integration with products catering to both consumer and enterprise markets. As per a report by TechSci Research, the Indian biometrics market size is poised to cross USD 5 billion by 2026.
The growing demand for enhanced access security by businesses across industries and the government of India’s impetus towards linking e-governance services and initiatives with Aadhaar, is fueling the growth of the biometric market in India. The market will further be aided by internet pervasiveness with the advent of 5G and the growing demand of smartphone and IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Here lies a great opportunity for the solution providers and entrepreneurs alike to develop innovative next-generation products leveraging biometrics to address the need of reliable identification and authentication of an individual.
We interacted with Pierre Alain Bauer, Senior Vice President for Biometric Devices at IDEMIA and Peeyush Jain, Vice President Terminal Business at IDEMIA to share their opinion on trends and market potential of the Indian biometric market. IDEMIA is a global leader in biometric technologies, and is focused at developing new-age biometric solutions that offer true security through industry leading authentication and recognition algorithms. In this feature we have incorporated excerpts from the interaction with Pierre and Peeyush, which has helped in building this article.
In today’s digital world, there is a looming threat of data and information theft from cyber criminals. Biometrics has emerged as the solution that offers both enhanced reliability and convenience when compared to traditional identification and verification methods such as passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs). Biometric technology uses an individual’s unique personal characteristics such as fingerprints, iris colour, voice tonality and facial features for identification, which the cyber criminals cannot easily replicate. In essence, the individual himself becomes the password rather than him having to memorize passwords or going through multiple levels of authentication for accessing any confidential information or service. Hence, banks, government and other industry sectors have readily adopted biometric devices for reliable identification and confirmation of individuals to prevent fraud and data thefts.
Giving reference to the Aadhar program, Pierre shared his opinion on biometrics adoption by saying, “Biometry is in the DNA of the Aadhar program in India. You have been the first one worldwide to understand and put in place the biometry to cater to such a huge population for efficient delivery of government services. This thwarts fraud and ensures payment or service is delivered to the correct beneficiary. For instance, in banking the magnetic card with PIN can be stolen and used by a fraudster who knows the PIN. In the case of biometrics, it permits you with the highest level of security as no two people will have the same biometric identifiers. However, people still hesitate in sharing their fingerprints for authentication purposes, arguing it’s private. But smartphones with fingerprint scanners democratized biometric identification. I believe it’s a matter of time that more and more transactions will be authenticated through biometrics, as it is the only way to reliably check and identify who is the correct person.”
Securing identity in connected world
From secured payment solutions to seamless and speedier security checks at airports, biometric technology has been the enabler in quickly authenticating an individual’s identity. However, in today’s connected world the data of a user is being collected, stored and transmitted by IoT devices, which makes any biometric information being transmitted prone to identity theft. This has necessitated the need of integrating encryption methods to biometric devices, so that the data in the device is secured and transmitted safely to a central database. Despite reliability, convenience and performance of biometric technology the solution providers have to develop holistic security solutions that allay the fear of identity theft in today’s connected world of devices.
Talking about enhanced security features of biometric devices, Peeyush said, “At IDEMIA, we do not compromise on security. In our face recognition devices we have a GPU instead of a CPU, which is much more advanced but also expensive. This slight premium assures data security to our users. Most biometric devices have an image capturing chip, while we add a processor that ensures end-to-end data encryption. With other biometric devices the captured image is transmitted as is, which makes it vulnerable to data thefts. Whereas, our devices transmit encrypted data. Even if someone tampers with our devices the residing data gets destroyed. Our devices are compliant with GDPR norms, and offer secured access control in the premises, be it factory floor or a sensitive government establishment.”
Road ahead for Biometrics in India
Besides secured authentication, biometrics brings in simplicity and convenience. Imagine the hardships faced by a pensioner, who post his retirement has to furnish a life certificate to the pension disbursing agency in order to draw his pension. However, COVID restrictions did not allow him to visit the agency in person. The government’s Jeevan Pramaan initiative is a biometric enabled digital service that aims to offer pensioners the ability to obtain digital life certificates through biometric authentication from the convenience of their homes through smartphones.
Pierre expressed his positive sentiment for the biometrics market in India, and said, “The acceptance of biometrics in India is incomparable to the rest of the world. In Europe, even if companies want to deploy biometrics for securing access, they are bound with legislation, regulations and GDPR, which complicates the deployment. Here in India, it is already a part of the system. This opens up the opportunity to develop and adopt innovative biometrics-based solutions for the reliable authentication. Our solutions offering end-to-end encryption for enhanced data security make a perfect use-case for sectors such as oil and gas, banks, defence, data centers and large corporations, for whom data security is of utmost importance.”
Peeyush cited that people are getting more aware and adopting latest technology that address their specific needs, he said, “Despite the COVID times, the e-commerce sector has benefitted hugely and witnessed tremendous investments. With warehouses getting bigger and bigger, I see that with a device like MorphoWave compact we can improve the productivity of the warehouse. As MorphoWave can scan and authenticate up to 50 users simultaneously, imagine the time that can be saved with this device to bring in 5000 employees into the warehouse that too with assured security. As employees spend less time for their authentication their time is saved, which enhances their productivity in the warehouse.”
Given the scale of the India market and the rising awareness amongst businesses for data security, biometrics has an important role to play. It depends on how system integrators collaborate with biometric device manufacturers for developing innovative solutions that address the varied needs of Indian consumers and businesses in the connected world of devices.