The Citizen (KZN)
SA’s biometric power works
GOLDEN SOURCE FOR IDENTIFICATION; WAY TO VERIFYING A PERSON A quick and efficient solution to combat possible fraud, says expert.
Biometric identification is nothing new. It has literally become a fabric of our everyday routine, with most of us having things like fingerprint recognition readily accessible on our cellphone. In the corporate world though, biometric identification plays a much more important role in fighting crime.
“Our technology advanced world gives criminals a sophisticated means to commit fraud. Biometrics is the golden source for identification – an undeniable way of verifying that the person is who they say they are,” says Shanaaz Trethewey, chief operations officer at Comcorp, a software innovator and specialist in authentication technology solutions.
South African businesses of all sizes and in all sectors but especially in the financial sector must already ensure they meet strict identification checks and regulations set out in the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) and Know Your Customer, which are designed to verify a customer’s identity and identify risk factors.
However, these anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism legislations were adapted last month, placing greater pressure on businesses that were previously not listed as accountable institutions to increase regulatory vigilance and implement stricter consumer due diligence.
The benefit of biometrics
The truth is that there are several pluses for any company who implements biometric identification. “The phrase ‘time is money’ is very relevant here. Biometric identification provides a quick and efficient solution to combat possible fraud and thus helps reduce downstream costs of a business,” says Trethewey.
These digital processes are also very relevant and appealing to the new generation of consumers and businesses outside of the traditional financial service sector. These generations are accustomed to the latest technology, and do not see the need for manual processes.
They instead appreciate the levels of vigilance, protection, and compliance in the financial sector and are keen to extend this to all spheres of everyday life – from elevating their ability to secure communal premises to even helping courier services deliver parcels to the correct recipient.
“It is all about ensuring that the right technology is used at the right time to make customers transact with ease. Right now, the biggest challenge for businesses is to educate those consumers who value manual processes in the benefits of biometric technology” says Trethewey.
“These consumers need to feel like businesses are working with as opposed to against them, in implementing processes that protect their identity and prevent them becoming a victim of crime. Anything that creates a high barrier to entry for fraud to take place is a positive step not just for a business but for a consumer too.”
As a reputable software innovator with over 25 years of financial industry expertise, Comcorp is determined to change this, and possess world class technology. Their Liveness checking technology is advancing facial recognition beyond static biometrics, which still plays a vital role in authentication and identification.
While criminal activity will seek to find ways to overcome the ID check or “fake” features, Liveness checking technology pushes the barrier to entry that much higher.
Liveness checks prompt a person to move in a certain way. The images are then captured during this movement process and because it requires active engagement and the following of instructions, the process proves that the person is alive and the intended recipient.
Overcoming the challenges
The biggest challenge with implementing any kind of new technology is consent. A great deal of concern revolves around where and how data from this technology will be stored and for what purpose it will be used.
Surprisingly, the concerns don’t always come from the legal sector, but from ordinary consumers who are afraid of mismanagement, mishandling and misuse. Very specific laws which are in place to protect consumer rights like the Protection of Personal Information Act, for example, should be a welcome comfort.
Another challenge is getting businesses to understand the cost they risk from not implementing these cutting-edge technologies. As Trethewey explains, the cost factor is determined by how long a company is willing to wait until implementing such a change, and what they will lose until then.
In some cases, the cost of a lack of FICA compliance can result in a fine of up to R1 million and suspension of the business, also noncompliant parties can face jail time of up to 10 years.
“The good news is that most companies already have platforms that make a roll out easy. After approvals and process discussions have been administered, and all stakeholders are aligned and trained, these integration projects can be turned around quickly and seamlessly by a company like Comcorp,” she says.
“The main challenge still remains; to take the first step. The recent FICA revisions will hopefully create a greater need and desire for change.”