Something old and something new

Issue 7 2021 Access Control & Identity Management

Nicolas Garcia, IDEMIA’s regional director of sales was not able to attend the BiometriX round table, but Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked him a few questions related to the discussion via email.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What is happening right now in the biometrics market from your perspective?

Garcia: Interest in biometrics has never been higher and keeps on growing. Since the pandemic started, interest in contactless technologies has accelerated for both fingerprint and facial recognition, although the majority of contactless requests we have received remain focused on contactless fingerprint readers. That’s not to say that contact biometric modalities are not still in use, they are still very much in demand.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: How has your business changed over the past few years, especially since 2020 (in terms of biometrics as well as access control and identity management in general)?

Garcia: At IDEMIA, we didn’t wait for the pandemic to propose contactless technologies, we started our contactless range many years back. The unfortunate sanitary situation reinforced our conviction that contactless is the future. With that in mind, we have continued to improve our current contactless fingerprint reader range (MorphoWave Compact), launched new product (VisionPass and Augmented Vision) for facial recognition and there is still more to come.

At the same time, contact technology is still successful and a very large installation base still needs to be maintained and upgraded, so we have continued to improve those systems too.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Facial biometrics gets all the attention today, but how broad is the adoption in reality?

Garcia: The interest in facial recognition is definitely higher today than a couple of years ago, in our range, MorphoWave Compact has set the bar really high in terms of contactless technology and therefore it is still the most successful reader in our contactless range. That being said, in biometrics, each modality has its own space. There are scenarios where you cannot use your hands and where facial is the way to go and vice versa. I would therefore say that facial and fingerprint are complementary in the contactless space.


Nicolas Garcia.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: How much of an impact is mobile identification and authentication having on the market, in other words, using your mobile device as a means to gain access to doors and services?

Garcia: We have not seen a huge uptake in South Africa. We do have some requests from time to time, but nothing significant as yet; we are ready if the demand rises as we are mobile-credential ready.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Using mobiles (BLE or NFC), access to IT systems could become simpler than buying a fingerprint reader for each workstation. Have you actually seen an increase in IT access (logging on etc.) using biometrics/mobiles or even card-based systems?

Garcia: I think it is always the same old debate about using biometrics only, card only or a combination of both, just with newer technologies. Each has pros and cons and the right technology should be selected based on specific use cases. The possibility to integrate has been around for many years now and there is definitely an interest in mixing technologies together to better suit the end-user requirements.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Are end user companies starting to value the platforms and/or ecosystems they can use rather than opting for the cheapest products out there?

Garcia: There are two schools of thought here. You find those who are trying to save all costs they can and get the cheapest option today. And you have those who are trying to get as much value as they can for their investment, understanding that they might not invest in the cheapest system today, but that they then get a durable and upgradable system, which will eventually save them time, money and more importantly, adapt to what they need in the future.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Will cloud services not cause havoc in the traditional channel market if access control systems are sold as a service (for a monthly fee)? Or will this provide a more reliable annuity income to SIs, resulting in better services?

Garcia: We still have a long way to go for cloud services to replace traditional services completely, but I think there is currently space for both. First, because not everybody is ready or willing to move in the cloud yet. Secondly, because even if everybody was deciding to move into the cloud today, it will take time to migrate all the systems which are already in place. As for the quality of services supplied, I think we should always strive to give the best possible services, irrespective of the business model in place.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: How is the PoPI Act changing the way biometrics are used/rolled out?

Garcia: Privacy should always be important, even if there is no legislation in place. At IDEMIA, our solutions have been designed to be privacy friendly from day one. It is important to understand that IDEMIA doesn’t keep or have access to any data at any point. However, IDEMIA provides all necessary tools to ensure that all stakeholders can comply with the legislation, from encrypted data to capturing relevant information only, as well as modifying or destroying the data in the system in accordance with legislation.

Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What is your five-year outlook for the biometrics market in South Africa and Africa, both in terms of technology as well as services?

Garcia: In short: contactless, integration and more value for money.

As discussed previously, we have made no secret of the fact that we believe in contactless and that our range of products will grow in this category. Integration: Biometrics is a very important component of any system because it validates who the person really is before the system can grant access resources, physical (entering a room) or logical (access to an IT resource). With integration, the system is capable of doing much more than just opening a door or not. It can ensure that certain conditions are met before opening this door or perform extra operations after the opening of the door.

When it comes to more value for money, as discussed, this has intensified and will continue. We have listened to the market and have started to introduce more added-value services through our partners. These services are designed to increase the value our readers deliver even further.


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