The next step for digital identities

In this guest blog post our VP Sales Fredrik Sjöholm shares his insight into what’s in store for the future of digital identity and how a digital identity framework can be successfully implemented.


Last month I took part in a panel on this topic at Nordic Banking Money LIVE with Pascal Rogiest, CEO LuxTrust and Sameli Maenpaa, Chief Data Officer, OP Financial Group. The next steps for digital identity is especially important to us at Precise Biometrics as we have been focused on providing secure and convenient identification and verification through biometrics for the last two decades. Connecting a person’s physical identity with their biometrics is at the heart of establishing and maintaining digital identity.

Since Apple opened up biometrics in a wide reaching way to consumers with the iPhone 5s, this technology is being used for many applications across the world – from mobile authentication for payments, in payment wearables and through to biometric smart cards – all providing the opportunity to increase security, reduce fraud and enhance customer convenience. We’re now seeing more and more ways to use biometrics and I think in the future we’re going to see a myriad of opportunites to use this technology, driven by consumers. Already we can see the first signs that this is happening, for example in China, KFC stores use facial recognition technology to make menu suggestions and enable customers to pay quickly and easily. Naked payments are being used in the Citi Stadium in New York and biometric authentication is available on all KB Kookmin ATMs in South Korea. As the technology and consumer expectations develop, I believe that we’ll start to see users constantly being authenticated by a range of biometric modalities so that the point of action will be when authentication doesn’t happen for some reason, for example if my fingerprint doesn’t match the one registered on my phone or payment card; my face is not recognized by a store camera or my behavior and/or location are unusual when I am authenticating myself. Amazon Go might just soon prove that consumers will expect an entirely seamless shopping experience as the next logical step is to replace its mobile app with biometrics that recognize the customer entering the store, connecting them directly to a payment service.

Achieving this seamless and continuous authentication experience is dependent on a few things however. Firstly, devices need to be fitted with sensors that can seamlessly recognize a person’s digital identity using their biometrics. Modalities such as face recognition in new smartphone models and the latest fingerprint sensors which cover the entire display of a phone will make this possible. Secondly, a combination of multi-modality biometrics will be required to achieve the highest levels of security and convenience since no one biometric method can do this alone. A person’s digital identity could thereby also build up over time and be added to throughout their life. Thirdly, digital onboarding needs to be carried out by connecting the biometrics of a person to their known identity. Ideally, it should be possible for a person to do this by themselves without visiting an office or branch, for example using a solution like Precise’s YOUNiQ which utilizes a mobile app with face recognition in combination with a driver’s license or a passport.

The final piece of the puzzle that will ensure a successful framework for the use of biometrics in this way, is that the industry gets it right. Individuals need to own their digital identity and the real question is who is allowed to have access to this information, who is allowed to manage, store and use it? Security safeguards must be in place and relevant regulation complied with (e.g. GDPR) so that users can be confident that they do indeed own their data and can choose how and when it is used. As an industry we have a valuable opportunity to utilize our knowledge and expertise to enable the best levels of security and system implementation. This is particularly important for key areas such as:

  • The storage and transfer of biometric data
  • Revocability – making sure that a user can withdraw their personal data (including biometrics) if they want to
  • Anti-spoofing and liveness assurance

If the industry does this well, then and only then, will success follow. A bright future awaits us all with solutions that do what we expect them to, protecting individuals’ digital identities and enabling convenience for all consumers.


By Fredrik Sjöholm, VP Sales, Precise Biometrics