Data Driven Insight for Biometrics, Digital Identity & eIDs

Biometrics, Mobility, Digital Identity, ePassports, eIDs, Automated Border Control, eGates, Secure Documents...

Biometrics, Borders, and Extreme Vetting in the Age of Trump

Posted: February 6th, 2017 | Author:

More than 3500 Automated Border Control eGates and Kiosks Now Deployed Representing 37% CAGR in Three Years

On-going concerns about national security are driving border authorities to continue to embrace biometric and digital identification based automation. The recently updated  “ABC eGate Deployment List” and “APC Kiosk Deployment List” indicate there are 2143 Automated Border Control (ABC) eGates and 1436 Automated Passport Control (APC) Kiosks currently deployed at more than 163 ports of entry across the globe. Deployments increased significantly between 2013 to 2016 achieving a combined CAGR of 37%. APC Kiosks reached 75% growth during this period while ABC eGates grew at a more modest 24% CAGR.

As the Trump administration doubles down on immigration restrictions and promises of “extreme vetting,” the reality is that biometrics are used to scrutinize millions of international travelers across the globe every day. Digital Identification technology, including biometrics, continue to allow immigration and border agencies to reliably vet visitors, immigrants, and refugees and automate border identification and control providing secure facilitation at ports of entry for international travelers worldwide.

APC Kiosk deployments grew rapidly in 2014 and 2015 increasing from 200 to 1247 units.Growth tapered off in 2016, reaching only 1436 units. However,  Acuity expects growth to accelerate again in 2017 and 2018 as APC Kiosks migrate to Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Currently, 2143 ABC eGates operate in 63 countries. Asia is home to 38.5% of all eGates deployed at land, sea and airports worldwide while 34% are deployed in Europe. Acuity expects ABC eGate numbers to continue to grow as existing airport deployments expand, new airport deployments come on-line, and land and seaports increasingly deploy eGates.

Acuity Market Intelligence’s “ABC eGate Deployment List” ( and “APC Kiosk Deployment List” ( provide details for all known deployments including location, program, owners, units, vendors, costs, and vendor market share analysis.

“The Global Automated Border Control Industry Report: Airport eGates and Kiosks” ( provides global market analysis and detailed revenue and unit forecasts.

Filed under: Airport Security, Automated Border Control, Biometrics, Market Development, Market Forecast, Market Insight, Market Research | No Comments »

Will Biometrics be the “Undoing” of the Monetization of Consumer Data?

Posted: April 8th, 2015 | Author:

The headline from Business Insider UK reads : Facebook is being sued for amassing the world’s largest stash of facial-recognition data

The article states …

The lawsuit alleges that this facial-recognition program violates the privacy of its users, citing an Illinois law called the Illinois Biometrics Information Privacy Acts, which requires companies to get written content from a user if it is collecting biometric data.

Further, according to the statute, the company must state the purpose and length of its data-collection program.

The idea being that Facebook collects and uses biometrics data without the requisite knowledge or consent of it’s 1.35 billion monthly users, or at least the ones in Illinois. Europe has actually prohibited the use of Facebook’s facial recognition technology,  but I have to wonder how exactly does this work? Does i apply to individuals who use European addresses for their profiles? Or does it apply to all traffic on European servers and networks?

Facebook says the templates are “useless bits of data,” that only work with their own software and “users can opt out of the feature and their data will be deleted”.  But this kind of explanation, regardless of its voracity, has never been convincing for any kind of personal data collection. Not even from leading biometric vendors or government agencies with large civil and criminal biometric databases.

Though it must be said that government biometric databases, at least within democratic and many not-s0-democratic societies, are generally accompanying by clear (and hopefully) transparent rules regrading the collection, storage, management, use, and disposal of biometric data. And to date, there have been no known major breeches of  government biometric databases that have led to catastrophic results. At least none that we know about.

Facebook and other commercial enterprises whose business model relines on collecting and monetizing  personal data are, as yet, generally not subject to the same rules, transparency, or  scrutiny. Though clearly European regulators did limit their use of biometrics, at least by Facebook, and the same is now being attempted in the US with the Illinois case.


What I find fascinating is that as companies, especially innovative hi-tech behemoths like Facebook, Google, embrace biometrics to simplify, secure, and enhance their social media, payment, and other services, not only do biometrics become demystified but the inherent capabilities of biometric technology actually begin to threaten the underlying business model that is driving their adoption.

Facebook and Google have voluminous knowledge of individuals who access the internet – preferences, friends and professional connections, shopping habits, games, information searches,  overall internet footprint, etc.   These massive data gathering machines have been parlayed into multi-billion dollar global enterprises. Corporate ownership, management, and sale of consumers’ personal information – information that is often far more difficult and costly to come by and far more intimate and invasive than biometrics – has become the foundation of the globalization of consumer marketing.

However, by integrating biometrics into mainstream consumer life, these companies may be threatening the very economic model that has allowed them to achieve meteoric success monetizing personal data. In essence, the integration of biometrics into IT based social media, finance, payment, and health ecosystems has the potential to deconstruct traditional ideas about and models of personal data ownership and control.

By enabling reliable anonymous identification, biometrics can greatly reduce, even eliminate, the need for the kind of personal information that is routinely required to conduct business, complete transactions, or engage in online interactions or research activities. Enabling this level or anonymity could fundamentally change consumer perceptions regarding their own personal data and the level of control they should have over who can access it, how it can be used, and certainly who can make money off to it.

This kind of “awakening”  round “consumer centric privacy” could force companies like Facebook, Google, and other consumer knowledge based information brokers to transform their business models to align with new consumer expectations or become mere shadows of their former selves.

For more perspective, download Acuity ’s market brief The ABCs of Mobility: Apple®, Biometrics and the promise of Consumer Centric privacy .

And, stay tuned for the upcoming Global Biometrics and Mobility Report: The Convergence of Commerce and Privacy.

Filed under: Biometrics, e/mCommerce, Market Development, Market Insight, Market Research, Mobile Biometrics | No Comments »

Have/Will mobile phones become our de facto “global identity card”?

Posted: March 3rd, 2015 | Author:

This article is interesting food for thought ….

Mobile phones have quietly become a global identity device we don’t really need

By David Glance, University of Western Australia

Phone as ID


Mobile phones have become central to our lives. In the US, 90% of adults have one. Although we think of mobile phones for their primary role in communication, they have quietly become a global identification device. Governments, and their secret services and law enforcement agencies in particular, have in most countries moved to prevent individuals from being able to buy a mobile phone without producing official identification. As far as these agencies are concerned, being able to identify the owner of a mobile phone is essential in being able to track the parties in a conversation. For countries like Australia that are considering metadata retention, having people identifiable greaty facilitates the analysis and detection of information of interest.

The problem with requiring identification for purchasing mobile phones is the same problem as for collecting metadata of all citizens in a country, it is not a particularly effective means of stopping or even deterring crime or terrorism but it has a disproportionately large impact on privacy and civil liberties of ordinary people.

Requiring identification to buy pre-paid mobile phones for example has not been shown to increase detection of criminals and has had the opposite effect of creating markets for stolen phones and unidentifiable SIM cards. The sorts of criminals law enforcement and security services would be after would also be generally more than capable of avoiding using phones that they had personally bought. At the same time,

On the flip side, there are a range of scenarios in which law abiding citizens are disadvantaged by the need to produce identification in order to buy a phone. This can range from people who don’t have access to official identification documentation like the homeless, through to people in family situations who don’t have control over their documentation and so are prevented from using it for this purpose.

More insidious however has been the way social networks like Facebook have adopted the mobile phone as a way of preventing anonymity on their networks. Although Facebook does allow just an email to create and verify an account, if a phone number is used, it needs to be a number that has not been used before and is registered with a recognised telecommunications provider.
As Facebook states:

“We have limits in place to make sure that everyone is using their real
information on their account.”

There is no real way around this. Facebook mobile verification will not work with “virtual phone numbers” such as those that can be set up in different countries to forward to your real phone number or even to a “soft phone”.

In fact, there are services from companies such as Telesign that will do the telephone number verification to ensure that it is a legitimate number from a recognised service provider.

Another consequence of using mobile devices for identification purposes is that it also acts to limit technological advances. The inability to use virtual numbers that might be associated with Skype or other services for the purposes of verification means that ultimately, that flexibility that these services offer is compromised.

Countries like Australia, that have struggled with the population when trying to introduce national identity cards have met with no resistance when introducing proxies for this card and in particular, mandatory identification for mobile phone purchases. The argument for identity cards was given as the need to fight terrorism even though in the last terrorist attack in Australia, the identity and significant information about the terrorist, Monis, was actually known by intelligence services.

Even with this information, the attack went unforeseen. If 18 phone calls to report the individual could not alert the services to an imminent attack, the idea that they will be able to discover this information in metadata is dubious at best.

Identification features of the mobile phone have taken a bigger leap with the advent of fingerprint use in the Apple iPhone and other smartphones. The use of the fingerprint links phones to bank details and by design establish the identity of the phone user at any point in time. Of course, Apple, Samsung and other companies will claim that this information is not made available to governments, but post-Snowden, that argument no longer holds very much validity.

The surveillance of a population is an easy option for politicians, even when they struggle to understand the technologies involved. It gives the appearance of using sophisticated means to combat potential threats. It also, like the identification properties of mobile phones, gives a country hidden benefits in control of whistle-blowers and political activists. It also means that these actions can be carried out without oversight, making the abuse of this power almost inevitable.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Filed under: Biometrics, eIDs, Market Development, Mobility, National ID, Smart Devices | No Comments »

“Mobility is the driving force that will unleash the long awaited biometric revolution”

Posted: January 27th, 2015 | Author:

Biometrics in mobile payments, banking, and a host of other mobiles services and applications are poised to transform and accelerate the globalization of mCommerce.

The latest research from Acuity Market Intelligence reveals a mobile biometric marketplace more complex, broadly based, and growing faster than previous forecasts indicate.

Acuity segments the mobile biometrics into three major sectors:

  • Biometric Sensors embedded in smart mobile devices: Smart Phones, Tablets, and Wearables.
  • Biometric Apps offered directly by biometric vendors, or downloaded to smart devices via mobile service providers such as banks, payment processors, social media sites, retailers, or online identity providers.
  • Biometric Authentication for payment and non-payment transactions provided via secure cloud-based services linked to Biometric Apps on smart devices.

Acuity projects that by 2020, global mobile biometric market revenues will reach $33.3 billion annually. This includes 4.76 billion biometrically enabled smart mobile devices generating $6 billion in biometric sensor revenue, 4 billion biometric app downloads generating $20 billion in annual revenues from direct purchase and software development fees, and 825 billion biometrical secured payment and non-payment transactions generating $6.8 billion in authentication fees.

Biometrics are a natural fit for the smart mobile devices we literally hold onto nearly every waking hour. The explosion in the use of smart devices over the past five years, along with anticipated growth over the next five — especially in developing economies where sub $100 smart phones have begun to alter the mobile landscape — will bring biometrics into the daily lives of half the global population. By 2020, 100% of smart mobile devices will include embedded biometric sensors as a standard feature

For more on the mobile biometric market, download your free copy of the NEW  Mobile Report Market Brief which previews Acuity market forecast data on mobile biometric smart devices, transactions, and global market revenue (Brief registration required).

For a comprehensive view of the marketplace and detailed forecasts, order The Global Biometrics and Mobility Report.

And as always, more information about all of Acuity’s research is available at the Acuity Research Page.

Filed under: Biometrics, Data Driven Analysis, Market Development, Market Forecast, Market Research, Mobile Biometrics, Mobility, Payments, Smart Devices | No Comments »

Ghosts in the Payments Machine

Posted: December 1st, 2014 | Author:

Today’s payment behemoths are trying to desperately hold on to control of the payment processing infrastructure because they intuitively – if not consciously  – understand that the true inevitable disruption of mobile payments is radical disintermediation i.e. total or near total annihilation of  existing, seemingly haphazard and completely archaic, business models.

This is apparent in their schizophrenic attempts to simultaneously fight new security standards for e and m-commerce while clinging to very regulations they love to rail against to limit new market entrants. It is apparent in the reports generated by highly paid consultants to strategize about how banks can hold onto, i.e. arm twist their customers, while generating new revenue streams, i.e. fees, to compensate for  archaic service models and lost payment opportunities. It is apparent in their acquisitions and attempts to present themselves as “market innovators” and “consumer service organizations”.

If mobile payments play out the way similarly disruptive technologies have in the past, the payments landscape of 2020 and beyond will look radically different then it does today. Some, if not all of today’s industry stalwarts, in spite of their best attempts to survive, will be greatly diminished, shadows of their former selves, if not simply ghosts. Meanwhile, a host of new players with radically different visions of how payments systems ought to work will rapidly grow into expansive financial legends with global footprints.

Sound far fetched? History tells us otherwise.  Have a read through a post from 2011  A Kodak Moment. Between 2000 and 2009, Kodak imploded.  The decade started well enough for Eastman Kodak. In 2000 it clocked film revenues of $11 billion, had 70,000 employees and 14 factories around the world. Then things started going pear shaped. Come 2009, revenues from the sale of film had fallen to $1.3 billion, the workforce had dropped to 20,000 and the number of factories had gone down to one.

Or consider Digital Equipment Corporate, AOL, Kmart, or even your local travel agency — those of you under 35, may not even know what they are.  Technology-based innovation is both the bane and savior of market evolution, indifferent to the fate of those impacted by rapid, sometimes catastrophic transformation. The notion that the today’s seemingly untouchable payment legends will remain intact after the coming decade of market transformation is quite simply, naive. In 1989, I consulted for a company that employed 500 people to facilitate highly-targeted,  database managed, email marketing. By 2001, I purchased a software program online that had far greater functionality for $195.

The beauty of this type of imminent and inevitable market transformation is that no one really knows how it will play out. Not the pundits or the prognosticators. Certainly not the CEO’s of major financial institutions.  So while American Express touts their “transformative move to tokenization” (quotes mine for sarcastic emphasis)  or VISA digs their heels in against the European Commissions payment card reforms,  brave entrepreneurs will continue to introduce new payment means and mechanisms, and the rest of us will continue to dance and jockey for position until the initial fallout subsides and the re-visioned marketplace emerges.

Hold on to your hats, this is going to be a wild and crazy ride!

Filed under: Biometrics, e/mCommerce, Market Development, Mobility, Payments | No Comments »