With the need for remote and contactless business solutions surging due to the coronavirus crisis, digital identity verification has become a crucial security tool.
In late 2020 or maybe early 2021, and for the first time in a long time, you’re going to take a flight. You check-in online beforehand as usual, but this time, when you arrive at the airport, you present your phone and have your face scanned to verify your identity.
You use the new contactless system to drop your bag and then, having prebooked your security slot, you move quickly through security scanners. At the duty-free store, you buy some perfume, a scan of your face triggering payment by credit card. Between leaving home and getting on the plane, you’ve barely queued and have touched few if any surfaces.
Cybersecurity advances: unlocking contactless travel
Welcome to the new travel experience – fundamentally changed post-Covid. Its success, however, will hinge on airports using digital identity technology to enable low touch or contactless travel, and on the willingness of those traveling to submit their biometric information.
It’s not pie in the sky. Denver International Airport is already working with Irish identity technology firm Daon to pilot a multi-faceted ‘seamless travel’ program, designed to solve the challenges of bringing passengers and employees back to airports in a post-Covid world.
“Using identity capture and verification technology gives airports the flexibility to reconfigure their layout, to handle check-in and bag drop in different places with more space, and to deal with crowds and checkpoints differently,” says Clive Bourke, EMEA and APAC president at Daon.
Enabling remote customer interactions
Travel is not an isolated use case. Now that social distancing is crucial, touchless experiences are on the rise and remote interactions are preferred when possible, we’ll increasingly use our digital identities to verify who we are.
Regardless of pressure on budgets during the crisis, Daon clients and potential customers have been fast-tracking remote customer onboarding technology in particular, says Bourke.
“Everyone who had a digital program is accelerating it,” he says. “Cybersecurity, particularly robust authentication and robust ways to onboard new customers, is central to that.”
Verification post-Covid: across sectors, around the world
For banks, insurers, and other financial services companies, mobile phone service providers, car-sharing companies, hotels, universities, or any business that needs users to verify their identities at some point, adopting digital identity technology could allow them to circumvent challenges with social distancing and travel restrictions.
Daon’s IdentityX platform is used by banks, insurance companies, telcos, sports betting, pension companies, cryptocurrency companies, and others. Bourke points to examples around the world of the shift to digital identity authentication, such as Spanish banks adding facial recognition to ATMs, Japanese financial companies enabling fully digital loan applications, and the New Zealand government allowing citizens to access a wide range of services using their ‘RealMe’ digital identity.
He adds that we can also expect to see more consolidation of our health-related information, with our doctors’ notes, lab reports, scans, test results, prescriptions, and other data held within an app on our phone.
“There’s such momentum behind cooperating to deliver data to people to make sure that they know their Covid results,” he says. “That demonstrates the willingness at the government level to put the data into people’s hands.”
Rethinking privacy: a new mindset
For widespread adoption of digital identification technology to take hold, however, consumers need to feel comfortable with it. Brands like Daon and others in the biometric authentication space have to assuage people’s concerns around privacy and data security.
Bourke believes, however, we are seeing a rethink of some of the core principles of privacy. “In Japan, when we went to work there first, all we heard was privacy, privacy, privacy. Now what we are seeing is adoption overtaking privacy. People are now revisiting some of those privacy principles and asking on what basis were they actually made. Were they just adopted for the sake of them rather than the logic of them?”
Furthermore, the Covid-19 crisis has underscored the interconnectedness of society, he says, meaning that people are willing to dial down some of their earlier concerns around privacy in the interests of reciprocity and the greater good.
“Are people willing to trust more now? Yes, definitely. There’s a general consensus that we are together in humanity and we all need to participate in society together to make it better. People are realizing they need to give some data to get something,” he says.
The robust legal requirements of GDPR in Europe in particular has also helped to ease concerns around privacy and cybersecurity, while also buoying these topics to the top of corporate agendas.
Online security could see offline transformation
While the key developments in privacy and security are happening in our virtual world, the ramifications of the move to digital identities and biometric security may be felt widely in the physical domain.
With many companies needing fewer physical branches than before and consumers happy to swap real-world queues and hard copy paperwork for their online equivalents, the next decade could see far fewer mobile phone stores or bank branches, notes Bourke.
It seems airports may not be the only public places that will look and feel radically different by 2030.