The Rise of Biometrics in the Cloud

August 4, 2022     |    4 minute read

The Rise of Biometrics in the Cloud

August 4, 2022     |    4 minute read

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In the past decade, enterprises across the globe have embraced the Software as a Service (SaaS) model in a big way, taking advantage of the cloud’s ability to offload work, control costs, and offer steady streams of new features. Driven at least in part by a global pandemic and pushed even further by applications that facilitate remote work, the global cloud computing market is expected to grow 16.3% by 2026 to 947.3 billion dollars. 

This growth will likely mean great things for the field of biometric authentication. Cloud-based biometrics enables organizations to acquire search and enroll capabilities without building those expensive systems themselves. With biometrics in the cloud, a company can configure and maintain its biometrics infrastructure remotely through a cloud service provider. The proliferation of the cloud model will bring the option of biometric authentication to even the smallest business. In fact, the global Biometrics as a Service (BaaS) market is projected to grow by 22.3% a year in the next four years. 

Unlike device-based biometric systems — like FIDO, and Apple’s Touch ID and Face ID — cloud-based biometrics capture the information on the device but then send it to the cloud for processing. Having the services available on demand removes the responsibility for managing the biometric data. Cloud-based services also offer SaaS’s affordability factor, allowing organizations to dial resources up and down, using only the biometric services they need. 

Consider some of the other benefits of biometrics in the cloud: 

  • Rapid infrastructure deployment
  • Biometrics on demand
  • Affordability and economies of scale
  • Integration and customization

With BaaS, an organization doesn’t need to launch and manage a resource-intensive process to acquire the software and integrate biometrics. A company also won’t have to manage biometric information since the BaaS provider would take on that work. What is perhaps even more powerful lies in the customization potential. Rather than having the organization configure its biometric authentication system for its needs, a biometric provider can create industry-specific solutions that can be delivered from the cloud.  

A bank can create a SaaS-based KYC and customer verification system to prevent fraud, errors, and duplicates. A retailer can use a cloud-based system to prevent fraud by having prepaid SIM card purchasers register their fingerprints or face at the point of sale.  

What Does Cloud Biometrics Mean for the Average Person?

The advantages of cloud-based biometrics might first be felt and seen by an enterprise, but most implementations also mean immediate improvements for consumers. The average authentication experience is usually “something you have,” like a driver’s license. Online, it’s usually “something you know,” like a password. Take, for example, renting a car. You show up at the car rental counter and show your license. An individual checks your license against your face to determine – is this person who they say they are? If that’s the case, the employee will make sure you actually have a reservation. You’ll make your way to your rental car, sign some more documents, and perhaps even show your ID again to drive your rental car off the lot. 

This string of identity-proving experiences is a clear use case for biometrics. Perhaps very soon, an app checks your driver’s license against your face to prove that you are who you say you are. The app is also tied to the car rental company’s reservation system to ensure your reservation exists. Driving off the lot, maybe a camera snaps a picture of your face and compares that to your driver’s license. Your identity has just been verified without you so much as slowing down.  

It’s clear to see how biometrics can transform something as routine as renting a car into a win/win improvement from the company and the consumer side. The company can use fewer people resources to validate information that can easily, more quickly, and more accurately be done by computer systems. And the consumer comes out ahead here as well. They spend less time in line and are not forced to dig into their pockets to find information that proves who they are.  

Biometrics-as-a-Service will make biometric authentication implementations far more accessible to smaller organizations. That will mean having friction removed from various activities in the future. Everything from the small, specialty e-commerce website you like to shop online to the corner drugstore where you need to show your ID before picking up your prescription could be powered by biometrics.  

Leaving behind your physical identification would go beyond convenience as well. Physical cards are not secure – they can be copied and altered. And cards are certainly not frictionless. No one likes rooting around in their pocket or purse for identification. We’ll likely reach a point where we can travel with nothing (ok, maybe some snacks) but not wonder how we will prove our identity while picking up that prescription or renting that car. Fingerprint, iris, and facial biometrics are well-proven identifiers that are nearly impossible to copy or alter. The future of errands and travel is streamlined and more secure – and we may have the cloud to thank for that. 

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