Data Driven Insight for Biometrics, Digital Identity & eIDs

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

Nice “De-bunking” of the German defense Minister FP Hack

Posted: December 29th, 2014 | Author:

fingerprint-copying-touchID-690x356Marcus Chavers of Newsledge did a really nice, concise job of de-bunking the fear mongering around the “hack” of the German Defense Minister’s fingerprint image.

Marcus writes …

Before we have the collective CNN-style freakout, there are some serious caveats to this. One, it doesn’t always work. It takes more than a few high quality images of a person’s hands. The easiest targets are celebrities and politicians, who have thousands of photos snapped of them.

Even then, have fun going through that archive. For the average person? Well, if you’re in line and someone has a Nikon DSLR pointed at your hand, you’re apt to say something or call the cops.

Two, they still need your phone. All that fingerprint work is for naught if the identity thief doesn’t have your phone. What’s the likelihood a Defense Minister is getting his/her phone stolen? About as likely as the thief getting access to it before it’s remote wiped.

And three. The practical danger of this is pretty limited. No one is going to get away with snapping pictures of your hand at Walmart. Then following you out to the parking lot to steal your phone. There’s easier ways to steal your identity. Seeing as online e-commerce is slow on patching vulnerabilities, just wholesale hacking Staples is easier than stealing 1000s of thumbprints.

Nothing more to say. Well done Marcus, well done!


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A Very MERRY CHRISTMAS for Mobile Biometrics!

Posted: December 26th, 2014 | Author:

The 2014 Holiday Season may be the brightest ever for the biometrics industry as the long anticipated floodgates for consumer biometrics may finally be open. Acuity forecasts that intensifying demand for smart phones, tablets, and wearable mobile devices that incorporate biometrics will drive a global market of 2.5 billion users with nearly 4.8 billion biometric devices by 2020.

The market for biometrically enabled mobile devices will surge over the next five years. Apple’s launch into biometrics and payments will be followed by similar efforts by Samsung and others, and within 3 years, biometrics will become a standard feature on smart phones as well as other mobile devices

Wearables including smart watches, Google’s re-envisioned Google Glass, along with form factors yet to be seen, will burst onto the market and fundamentally change the way we think about and manage communication, payments, personal transactions, healthcare, and social interaction. All of these devices will include embedded biometrics as well as options to download software-based biometric apps.

Acuity projects that embedded fingerprint sensors will initially dominate the market becoming standard in smart phones and tablets by 2017, generating more than $1.5 billion in annual revenues. Emerging biometric sensors that rely on an individuals pulse, skin texture, or other yet unknown metrics will evolve rapidly, especially on wearables. This is in addition to biometric apps, such as facial or eye based recognition, that will leverage the camera or other built-in device features.

For more insight into the mobile biometric marketplace, review Acuity’s Mobile Market Analysis and download Acuity’s Mobile Market Briefs: “The ABC’s of Mobility: Apple, Biometrics and the promise of Consumer Centric privacy” and “The Center of Gravity Has Shifted“.

For a comprehensive view of the marketplace and detailed forecasts, pre-order  “The Global Biometrics and Mobility Report”.  The report will be available in January 2015 and can be ordered now for a 20% discount.


Filed under: Biometrics, e/mCommerce, Market Forecast, Market Research, Mobility, NFC, Payments, Uncategorized | No Comments »

MasterCard Cries Fowl on Bitcoin!

Posted: December 4th, 2014 | Author:

As if right on cure, following my 12/1/14 post, MasterCard Australia is complaining about unfair competition and begging for regulation.

MasterCard has spoken out against the risks associated with bitcoin, calling for Australian regulators to level the playing field between the crypto-currency and other payments systems.

MastCard provided a submission to the Australian inquiry into digital currencies, which is headed by the Senate Standing Committee on Economics.

The card processor argued that “all participants in the payments system that provide similar services to consumers should be regulated in the same way to achieve a level playing field for all”. 

MasterCard added that the technological advances associated with bitcoin should not free it from regulation.

Moreover, any regulations should be technology neutral to ensure that they can and do apply to all new providers of payment services to consumers, especially with advancements in technology,” the statement said.

The company expressed fears that since digital currencies currently lack the basic protections expected of MasterCard products, they lack adequate consumer protection.

The anonymity provided by digital currencies, the company argued, means they can be used for illegal activities and are susceptible to money laundering. The fluctuation in bitcoin value was also noted.

Were a crisis of that nature to occur, MasterCard said, crypto-currencies lack a third party backer such as banks, administrators or regulators that could intervene.

“This means that consumers have no recourse if a digital currency loses its value or if the digital currency system fails,” MasterCard said.

Pro-bitcoin groups have noted that an attempt to stuff bitcoin into a pre-existing regulators structure would be counterproductive, CoinDesk reported, and disadvantage the Australian FinTech community.

The Senate held its first hearing on digital currencies last week, after tasking the Economics References Committee with examining the impact of digital currencies in early October. Submissions closed on 28th November after 31 individuals and institutions contributed to the enquiry, including bitcoin companies, financial institutions and regulatory bodies.


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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 »