Interview: Jumio's Robert Prigge on digital ID and biometrics
08 August 2017 16:39 GMT

Digital ID innovators Jumio took the unique step last month of adding eyeball-tracking biometrics to its mobile solutions.

Planet Biometrics caught up with Robert Prigge, chief revenue officer, to explore the integration.

What made Jumio select eye-tracking as a biometric?

At Jumio, we closely monitor ongoing market trends and innovations. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen significant growth in the use of biometrics to verify and authenticate customers online, and this trend is continuing at pace. In 2017 alone, the total number of mobile payments authenticated by biometric technology will reach nearly 2 billion, up from more than 600 million in 2016.

Unfortunately, this growth has been matched by fraudsters, who have successfully deceived several high-profile biometric-based security procedures.  In May, German hackers fooled the Samsung Galaxy S8’s iris scanner by using an artificial eye, while two twins duped HSBC’s voice ID authentication service by mimicking each other’s voices.

Following extensive research and investment into the potential of eyeball-tracking for our Netverify Trusted Identity as a Service (TIaaS) solution, we concluded that asking users to follow targets around a screen in a randomized pattern would be incredibly difficult for fraudsters to imitate. Further, this cutting-edge technology sits comfortably alongside our existing facial recognition process and adds another layer of security.

Identity Verification, along with ID Verification and Document Verification, is one of three pillars that Jumio adopts to ensure comprehensive verification, and we break Identity Verification down into four different checks. First, we conduct a Liveness Check to ensure that the user is physically present. Eyeball-tracking is central to this process.

Second, we run a Database Check to ensure that the user’s ID document has not already been blacklisted in our records, before using Face Match technology for a Similarity Check. Our Intelligent Process Automation ensures that the user’s ID photograph matches their live face, thereby confirming that the person performing the transaction is who they say they are. Finally, our machine learning technology, supported by our trained experts, runs a validity check to ensure the selfie is valid for completing the identity verification process.

Importantly, the addition of eyeball-tracking also enhances the great user experience that our customers enjoy. Today’s mobile users are already familiar with selfies and, with front-facing cameras, the whole verification process takes just five seconds to complete. This balance of great customer experience and watertight security has proven so popular that the adoption rate of Netverify Identity Verification has already registered a 153% growth from January 2017 to June 2017.

How does Jumio see the future of digital identity evolving? Will biometrics be a part of all solutions?

As the world is becoming digitized, we envisage that our digital identities will eventually completely replace the use of physical credentials such as ID cards or passwords. We are already seeing this transition in action at the authentication stage of verifying a digital identity with the onset of 3D Secure 2.0, which enables customers to authenticate themselves by using onetime passcodes and biometrics, as opposed to the single password option used in 3D Secure. 

At this stage, it is still unclear which technologies will be used for customer onboarding, administration and each individual use case. However, biometrics will be crucial to the whole verification chain due to their uniqueness and due to the rapid adoption of biometrics that we have already seen. A few years ago, nobody expected to use a fingerprint to unlock a phone, yet this year, almost 60% of smartphone models are expected to use fingerprint sensors.

From our perspective, it is crucial that all developments in digital identity occur with the end-user’s consent and that they retain full control of their digital representation. This will ensure that the convenience inherent in the use of digital identities will be matched with established trust between consumers and verifying institutions.

Can biometrics improve KYC solutions? Why?

The beauty of using biometrics to verify customers is that it secures and streamlines the KYC process for business and consumer alike. It was once the case that many institutions would ask customers to physically visit a store with hard copies of identity credentials and proof of address (POA) documents to meet KYC regulations.

With the advent of digital-only institutions, including challenger banks such as Monzo, biometrics have already greatly enhanced the customers’ experience in terms of speed and ease-of-use. For businesses, it is no longer sufficient to rely solely on the authenticity of documents provided by a prospective customer. It leaves too much room for falsification and is way behind the advanced methods of today’s identity fraudsters.

To truly know a customer, it is necessary to ensure that transactions are being performed by a real person, and to ensure that their identity credentials correspond with their real-world existence. Biometrics such as eyeball-tracking technologies can ensure this by proving that there is a genuine human carrying out the transaction, which ultimately provides a more reliable KYC check than non-biometric solutions.

What is fuelling the increasing demand for digital ID solutions?

The demand is being driven by our digitised lives. Customers have many options to shop and bank online, and we are seeing many institutions open without an in-store proposition. To do so necessitates verification checks that were not necessary ten years ago.

This creates a situation whereby almost every business is required to offer a mobile service or application, which must provide as frictionless an experience as possible for customers. Of course, the identities of these customers must still be established, and digital ID solutions have emerged as a highly cost-efficient and convenient method of achieving this.