Biometrics — The next frontier of identification and verification (Part 1)
30 Jul 2018

Over the years, we have seen a steady growth of biometric technology for innumerable reasons but mostly due to the fact that personal identification and authentication is considered more important than ever.

The practical uses of biometrics is growing rapidly, with the aim of bringing more security to consumers and various organisations, including banks, with ease.

Airport officials have been using iris recognition to verify passenger identities at numerous large international airports for a number of years; this is making life easier for airport officials and passengers.

China, for example, is implementing facial recognition technologies that capture the faces of the drivers violating traffic rules and then matches them with the police database, hence enabling enforcement authorities to identify and fine traffic violators, including those driving without a valid license.

This technology is making its way into the financial services space, as a rise in identity fraud in recent times mandates verifying the identity of the customer with zero error.

Thanks to the huge boom in media devices with finger and iris scanning capabilities, organizations such as banks are creating customized KYC procedures that verify the identity of the customer through biometrics.

One of the key drivers of using biometrics for KYC is that it brings in higher security than manual KYC processes, as it uses unique characteristics such as face and iris recognition to verify the identity of customers and ensuring the person is really who they say they are, and has ownership of the documentation to prove it.

So how does this work? Ideally, the customer has to send a copy of his valid ID document along with his/her image (such as a selfie).

The biometric software then scans and authenticates the documents for ID verification using forensic-level forgery techniques such as manipulation in actual ID images.

This includes content and/or face photo replacement to ensure compliance with industry regulations.

Details of the customer such as first name/last name, DOB, place of birth is fed back into the system automatically using data extraction algorithms so as to reduce the human error.

All said and done, it is really important to resist fraudsters who try to use static images to “fake” their identity, there is a new buzzword in the market termed Liveness Detection and the biometric solutions should incorporate this feature into their product as it monitors for even the slightest facial movement and confirms the liveness of the person.


Using biometric technologies, financial organisations are enhancing their KYC procedures for better customer experience. Biometrics has already hit the mainstream with the advent of more and more devices currently using biometric authentication and this technology will gradually become the focal point of the improved KYC process.

Image: Geralt

About the author: Suresh Chavali is a subject matter expert in the risk and compliance sector, focusing on know your customer (KYC), risk management, money laundering and terrorist financing schemes and trends. He has worked for various firms, including Barclays and Deutsche Bank.

This article is expressing personal opinions and is meant for information purposes only. The article does not intend to replace professional or legal advice. It is recommended that readers seek independent professional or legal advice, or speak to authorised persons/organisations.

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