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Why banks must go biometric

Banks will need to rely on new solutions that leverage facial algorithms and 3-D image detection, writes LANCE FANAROFF of iiDENTIFii



As South Africa’s banking sector embarks upon digital transformation and the shift to branchless banking, cyber security and fraud prevention will have to be top of mind. Indeed, while the race to provide quick and efficient mobile banking solutions is driving innovation, it also creates new opportunities for shrewd cyber criminals and hackers. As it stands, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) reported that in 2018 digital banking fraud across all platforms resulted in over R262 million in losses, with the number of incidents increasing over 75%.

In the face of this challenge, many banks are being forced to rethink their security procedures – while also balancing increasing consumer demand for a mobile and friction-free banking experience. Today, the growing pressure to strike this balance has been driving increasing adoption of biometric technology solutions amongst banks and other financial institutions. Put simply, biometrics refers to the use of technology to identify a person based on some aspect of their biology.

While the use of biometrics used to be limited to governments and high security environments, rapid advancements in the technology – coupled with increasing smartphone penetration – are making biometric solutions ever more attractive (and accessible) for banks looking to digitize their processes. Indeed, by harnessing the sophisticated cameras, sensors and rich applications that smartphones now offer, banks can explore new solutions that meet customer demands for mobile, quick and engaging banking capabilities. 

One such example is remote on-boarding: by using advanced biometric digital authentication technology platforms, savvy banks can now enable new customers to open accounts and begin transacting without having to go into a branch and submit reams of paperwork. This type of capability will arguably become more and more important as banks compete to win market share amongst demanding, digitally savvy young customers. 

‘Liveness’ detection is key

While interest and investment in biometric authentication technology is rising in line with rapid digitization, it is imperative that banks choose robust solutions. When harnessing biometric technology to prevent fraud, the key element is liveness detection: the ability to determine whether the source of a biometric sample is a live human being or a fake representation. Today, many banks and organisations are using gesture-based biometric techniques. This is problematic and represents a security vulnerability because this technology is quite easily spoofed and/or hacked. 

With this in mind, it is critical that banks explore newer and more advanced biometric authentication solutions that have more sophisticated liveness detection capabilities. For example, there are new solutions that leverage facial algorithms and 3-D image detection – thereby achieving accurate proof of liveness with a facial recognition system that is multiple times harder to spoof. 

Balancing innovation with efficient processes  

In addition to choosing a biometric authentication solution that is current and leading edge, banks and organisations have to ensure that implementation is managed correctly. This is key to ensuring that the solution is safe and robust, as well as enabling a smooth end user experience. When harnessing biometric on-boarding solutions in particular, it is critical that the customer experience is as seamless and friction-less as possible – thereby supporting the broader move to efficient, digitised, branchless banking. 

Internally, banks should place strong emphasis on the process flow – which requires having skilled managers in place to guide the integration of new biometric solutions within existing infrastructure. Similarly, banks have to choose their technology partners very carefully, and drive a transparent, highly engaged partnership to ensure that biometrics are integrated in the most agile and efficient way. There is inevitably a great deal of governance, administration and red tape involved in any rollout – so it is imperative that every key stakeholder is engaged and supportive of the integration process.  

Notably, the right technology partner should also advise on the most recent advancements and trends within biometric authentication and fraud prevention that are impacting the global financial services sphere. For example, as customer databases become more important and serve as competitive differentiators, banks should explore blockchain technology as a way of securing highly sensitive biometric data. Looking ahead, biometric databases will need to be impenetrable – and blockchain technology can arguably fulfil this requirement while also supporting ongoing innovation within banking. 

Embracing a future-proof security solution

There is no doubt that the digital race is on: banks are now competing to win the loyalty of increasingly fickle, demanding and digitally native customers. The winners will almost certainly be the banking providers who can effectively balance the need for mobility and convenience with robust security and sophisticated fraud prevention. Today, biometric authentication technology is proving to be one of the most reliable ways of achieving this balance, and will potentially become even more integral to banking security in the years to come. 


LHI is coming to save your car from hazards

Local Hazard Information will give drivers advance warning of potential dangers lurking around the corner



There are many times when knowing what is around the corner could be useful. But for drivers that knowledge could be critical. Now, thanks to Ford’s new connected car technology, it is also a reality.

Local Hazard Information (LHI) marks a significant step on the journey towards a connected transport infrastructure by helping drivers prepare for and potentially avoid dangers on the road. When drivers ahead encounter sudden tailbacks, accidents or spilled loads, the driver behind – and possibly out of sight – is given advance warning. This could also apply to everything from freak hailstorms, to sudden flooding, or even landslides.

The triggers for the system come from what is happening in the cars ahead. It could be that airbags have been activated, hazard warning lights are flashing, or windscreen wipers are in operation. Previous traffic incident alert systems have relied on drivers to input information in order to generate alerts. LHI works autonomously, without the need for any driver interaction, to generate information and issue warnings.

Hazards are only displayed – via the dashboard display – if the incident is likely to impact on the driver’s journey. LHI is designed to be more beneficial to drivers than hazard information from current radio broadcasting systems, which often deliver notifications not relevant to them.

Already featuring as standard and free of charge for the first year on the new Ford Puma, LHI technology is being rolled out across more than 80 per cent of Ford’s passenger vehicle line-up by the end of this year. Crucially, the benefit will not be limited only to those travelling in Ford vehicles. Information sent can be used to alert drivers of other manufacturers’ vehicles, and vice-versa.

“What makes Local Hazard Information different is that it is the cars that are connected – via the Internet of Things. There is no reliance on third party apps. This is a significant step forward. Warnings are specific, relevant and tailored to try to help improve your specific journey.” Joerg Beyer, executive director, Engineering, Ford of Europe

How it works

Sensors monitor activities including emergency braking, fog lights and traction control to detect adverse weather or road conditions. Data from these activities is then computed to determine the hazard location and whether a traffic incident has occurred.

The vehicle automatically provides updates through a secure connection to “the cloud” using the Ford Pass Connect modem. Ford’s technology partner HERE Technologies operates the central cloud-based platform that collates information from multiple vehicle brands, governed by a business-to-business agreement.

The more cars are connected to the network, the greater the efficiency of the system. When many vehicles generate the same warning, others in the vicinity receive incident information from the cloud via the cellular network, enabling drivers to reduce speed or take appropriate action.

Additional information is sourced from public authority incident databases and traffic reports to provide drivers with further advance warnings including approaching vehicles driving on the wrong side of the carriageway, animals or people in the road ahead, and roadworks.

The on-board modem will be connected at the time of vehicle delivery. Customers may choose to opt in/opt out of certain data sharing.

Local Hazard Information data provided by HERE Technologies.

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Bundesliga plans to “revolutionise football viewing”



Germany’s Bundesliga football league has selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its official technology provider to deliver more in-depth insight into every live broadcast of Bundesliga games and enable personalised fan experiences. 

Bundesliga says it will use AWS artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), analytics, compute, database, and storage services to deliver real-time statistics to predict future plays and game outcomes. It will also use the technology to recommend personalised match footage across mobile, online, streaming, and television broadcasts.

Using AWS technology, Germany’s premier national football league will build new cloud-based services that automate processes, increase operational efficiency, and enhance the viewing experience for the league’s rapidly growing global fan base. By developing a new, next-generation statistics platform on AWS, using Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed service to build, train, and deploy ML models, Bundesliga will offer fans real-time predictions on when a goal is likely to be scored, identify potential goal-scoring opportunities, and highlight how teams are positioning and controlling the field, based on live data streams and historical data from over 10,000 Bundesliga games. Bundesliga also plans to leverage AWS ML services, such as Amazon Personalize, an ML service to create real-time and individualized recommendations, to offer fans personalized game footage, marketing promotions, and search results based on their favourite teams, players, or matches.

Using other AWS ML services, including Amazon Rekognition, an intelligent image and video analysis service, Bundesliga will build a cloud-based media archive that will automatically tag specific frames, from its more than 150,000 hours of video, with metadata such as game, jersey, player, team, and venue, so that the league can easily search historical footage and surface pivotal plays for in-game broadcasts, in more than 200 countries. This archive will enable Bundesliga to search across its entire history of football footage to provide a more enhanced viewing experience for fans and automate the current manual process of searching and tagging match highlights.

“We are extremely excited to be working alongside AWS to develop the next generation of football viewing experience,” said Christian Seifert, CEO of Bundesliga. “Innovation means challenging the status quo. Working closely with AWS, as one of the most innovative technology companies in the world, significantly enhances the investment we’ve made in innovation over the past two decades, all of which contributes to us being able to deliver a world-class football experience for our fans.”

“As the league with the highest average number of goals per game, and the highest stadium attendance globally, the Bundesliga is one of the most entertaining sports leagues in the world,” says Andy Isherwood, Vice President and Managing Director EMEA, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “We are thrilled to work with the Bundesliga and help them use cloud technology to give football fans around the world a more engaging match day experience and look forward to helping them leverage our deep portfolio of ML and AI services so they can deliver even greater insight into the world’s favourite game.”

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