Jul 1, 2024

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A new frontier for digital identity in Africa

Identity theft is a pervasive issue in South Africa, costing the country billions annually and showing a significant rise in recent years. As cybercrime continues to escalate globally, securing online transactions and verifying identities have become paramount in the financial sector. Traditional methods of authentication, such as passwords, are proving increasingly vulnerable to sophisticated cyber threats.

This editorial by our investee iiDENTIFii explores how biometric technology, specifically liveness detection, can revolutionise identity verification processes, offering robust protection against fraud.

The cost of identity theft

It is highly publicised that identity theft costs South Africa R1 billion every year and has grown a staggering 200% over the last six years.​ IBM Security estimates that the average data breach costs a South African company R46 million and takes around eight months to detect and contain. Our country also has the third-highest number of cybercrime victims worldwide, losing approximately R2.2 billion annually to cyber-attacks. In the world of financial services, online authentication is paramount. How can we ensure that the person transacting on the other end of the screen is who they say they are?

The role of biometrics and liveness detection

The average person has around 80 passwords. Passwords they forget, passwords that are compromised, and passwords that don’t transfer between devices. Biometrics, on the other hand, provide a seamless experience where onboarding no longer requires account details, an ID book, or fingerprints. All it needs is a short process of taking a selfie using technology that ensures that the person on the other side is a genuine, physically present human being verifying their identity at that moment. 

At iiDENTIFii, we envision a world where this identification method soon becomes mainstream. For example, two-factor authentication could be replaced by proof of liveness and a fingerprint. The world is ready. A Visa study shows that 86 per cent of consumers are interested in using biometrics to verify identity or to make payments, while 70 per cent believe that biometrics are easier.

The necessity for biometrics

One could ask, why now? Why not use the verification and authentication processes already entrenched in financial services and governments at various levels? Unfortunately, as technology advances and cybercrime tools become more freely and cheaply available, opt-in biometric onboarding with liveness detection is one of the few methods that offers comprehensive protection for institutions and their clients from fraud. Fraudsters have made face-matching on its own almost obsolete by employing spoofs that exhibit human traits, such as photos or puppets. Even authentication processes with gesture/motion requirements can still be spoofed. Leading biometrics AI uses liveness detection to determine that it is interfacing with a genuine, physically present human. This makes it far safer than passwords or PINs, which can be hacked or stolen by fraudsters. 

Our experience so far

The results of biometric authentication are compelling. Within Africa, we have worked with some of the continent’s leading banks to implement face verification to enable inclusivity, accessibility, usability and privacy using biometric authentication. The use case extends beyond banking. Our technology is being successfully applied in industries such as telecommunications, national services, online education and border security and immigration. 

 iiDENTIFii specialises in advanced biometric solutions, including facial recognition and liveness detection, to enhance security and streamline identity verification processes across various industries.

Discover the future of biometric services with iiDENTIfii and explore their service offerings by visiting www.iidentifii.com


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