Interview: Vkansee president Jason Chaikin on iris and banking
25 August 2016 14:35 GMT

The inclusion of iris recognition on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has thrown a huge spotlight on the future of iris solutions on mobile devices, and indeed the future of other modalities as a result.

Since the smartphone’s launch, subsequent plans by banks to trial the iris recognition feature for account logins and to authorise transactions have further heightened expectations over the scalability of the solution.

Could iris replace the fingerprint readers that users have grown so familiar with? Or will both live happily together as part of a multi-modal solution, with different features optimised for different users or scenarios?

Planet Biometrics caught up with Vkansee president Jason Chaikin to gather his thoughts on the issue.

What is your reaction to plans to introduce iris sensors as part of mobile banking security measures?

It’s very exciting because the iris is a contactless modality that has undisputed levels of accuracy. However, scanning the iris can be challenging – often times, lighting conditions, such as a sunny day or a bright light source nearby, can alter the success rate of the iris scan. Additionally, current iris scans require users to stand in very specific poses to accurately capture, which introduces a lot of human error and frustration. Once the image capture problems are solved, and that technology does exist, biometric iris sensors can appeal to end users and enterprise platforms.

What vulnerability issues are presented by the proliferation of biometrics in mobile banking?

A mobile banking solution must consider all the vulnerabilities and layer authentication systems to compensate. For example, a high volume transaction should require multiple challenges – not just a biometric or PIN/Password. Recently NIST published a paper discouraging the use of one time password/PINS via SMS in light of VOIP changing the telco landscape. In its place, they suggested alternative authenticators, such as biometrics. To me, it’s not a matter of biometric vulnerability, but total system vulnerability. 

Is there scope to link biometrics-based national ID schemes in countries with biometric banking initiatives?

India is a good example where the national ID based on biometrics is used by banks to confirm ID, reduce fraud and ensure Identity. Other countries use biometrics for entitlement programs like pension and state assistance to ensure only the intended recipient can receive the benefit. This architecture requires a centralised database, and in light of smartphones securely storing individual identity credentials, I think this architecture may appeal to privacy-minded people that still want the convenience and security of biometric authentication.

Which biometric modality do you think will emerge as the most powerful for mobile banking, or will multi-modal solutions become the most popular option?

Currently, biometric fingerprint sensors are the undisputed leaders through their number of users. Chase Bank, HSBK and others utilise the results from a fingerprint verification on iOS and Android if the user selects this option.

In terms of the most beneficial solution, layered security is always the most powerful as it removes single points of failure. Companies like Hoyos Labs and Daon, for example, provide platforms that secure end-to-end transitions and integrate biometrics to meet the security and convenience requirements of each implementation. 

Your firm specialises in fingerprint sensors, can you explain the benefits of optical sensors in major implementations?

Optical sensors are the workhouse of mission critical projects like national ID, AFIS and Law Enforcement and Physical Access Control because of their physical reliability and high image quality, just like capacitive sensors are the workhorse of embedded devices like mobile phones computers. 

As optical sensing becomes miniaturized, its high resolution and capability to identify fake fingerprints will make it attractive to device makers, primarily because optical sensors are not compromised when placed under the cover glass. New and exciting industrial designs will attract the large OEMs in the PC and smartphone space.