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Javier Mira, President, and CEO at FacePhi joins this State of Identity podcast to talk about the coming decentralization of the biometrics industry. How to drive inclusion and fairness with the use of biometrics. The role that liveness detection has to play in biometrics deployments moving forward, as well as the expansion outside of core regulated industries for biometrics.
Cameron D'Ambrosi, Managing Director at Liminal
Javier Mira, President & CEO at FacePhi
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:00:00] Everyone, welcome to this week’s episode. Got another great one for you. Javier Mira of FacePhi joining to talk about the coming decentralization of the biometrics industry. How to drive inclusion and fairness with the use of biometrics. The role that liveness detection has to play in biometrics deployments moving forward, as well as the expansion outside of core regulated industries for biometrics. It’s another great episode. You won’t want to miss it. Stay tuned. Welcome everyone to State of Identity. I’m your host, Cameron Ambrosi. Joining me this week is Javier Mira, president and CEO at FacePhi Javier. Welcome to state of identity.
Javier Mira [00:00:46] Hi, Cameron and a pleasure being here with you.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:00:49] It’s so great to have you. You know, we’ve been on a bit of a tear talking to some folks around the biometrics space. And, you know, I think we would have been remiss to not include you as I think you’re really doing some interesting things out in the space and really excited for our audience, too, to get a chance to know you a little bit better. So before we jump into some of the more nuanced or pointed questions about, you know, what you built in and how you’re differentiating yourself, would you mind telling us at a 15,000 foot level for those who are not familiar with the platform, what you’ve built.
Javier Mira [00:01:25] Of course Cameron Just a short pitch. I would say that FacePhi was born about ten years ago with just developing an algorithm for facial recognition to be able to maintain the frame as a sector at that moment in the Web banking and recently we just changed practically 100% of our strategy. Today FacePhi is one of the leaders in some of the regions about verification a few ways in using different biometrics, different modules and technologies. More than 120 banks using our technology today. The companies growing before pandemic being 24 people today of more than 200 people joining the company, expanding really well in the last couple of years and ready to participate in this interesting world that is identity.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:02:16] I love it. So, yeah, let’s let’s jump right into it. You mentioned financial services is is kind of a core area that you guys are focused on, or rather, that’s where adoption has been. Where do you see the the current and future growth of your platform coming from? And in how far are you that we can continue expanding biometric use cases outside of the more regulated industries? You know, I think this. Focus on regulatory mandates has been one that’s been quite interesting to me and in terms of the evolution of where companies are adopting digital identity technologies. And I think we’ve certainly begun to see in the past few years, you know, trust in safety, non-regulated use cases, drawing more attention, more spending in terms of their identity teams. You know, what are your thoughts there in terms of kind of where the puck is headed in terms of the industries and use cases for technologies like biometric?
Javier Mira [00:03:18] Well, Cameron, in my opinion, I think we all live in all the companies related to identity and biometrics. We all live in a very sweet moment. I remember about ten years ago when we tried to develop and integrate solutions these different sectors. At the end we decided to go to the financial sector because we thought that if we were able to integrate or implement these technologies in the financial sector, that is the most regulated sector in the world. Practical, it will be very easy to try to replicate in other verticals. This truth is that now, and especially after the pandemic. Every sector that is related to or it’s interested in verifying online the user or the customer. They need these kind of solutions. Once you have, by the experience in the regulator market or verticals such as the financial sector going to gaming or travels, hospitals, public entities is quite easy. At the end, they want to replicate what you already have in the finance sector. So as a future, I think that it is still financial sector is going to be leading the market in implementation because they pay much attention to know the customer is interacting with them. But it’s true that it’s open to any many other verticals. As I mentioned, traveling, we we have really tired of going to the airports and trying to show the passport one and again and again and again. And at the end, we have technologies, just more convenience that are allowing the user experience to the passengers or the of their patients in the hospitals. You never know whether you. So I think that the future will be spreading a lot in different sectors, all what is related to identity and trying to improve the user experience all the way.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:05:01] I think you hit on so many of the the areas that I think are are drawing focus around this notion of inclusivity, for example, and how can we leverage these technologies to to bring more folks into whether it’s financial services or other applications through the use of biometrics? I also think the role of vendors in this space, I think, is is set to fundamentally change as governments now begin to move more directly into the ID space. You know, whether it’s in the EU with IDs, whether it’s in the U.S. with some of these public private partnerships between, you know, state level DMVs and Apple, for example, you know, what impact do you think this? Encroachment, if you will, of government into the spaces set to have. And how do you see FacePhi, you know, interacting with this next generation of ID platforms and systems?
Javier Mira [00:06:00] Well, actually, I think we are really excited about the movement that we’re seeing from some governments. I think that going through this way, that it’s from the governments trying to implement the idea of one big key player in the markets and trying to do also identity solutions within the mobile devices I think are always helping there. Well, we believe in the last 15 years that at the end, if you talk to to new people, new millennial, new generation, they don’t want to go to the branch office to open an account. They don’t want to go to the hospital to us for a for a day. They prefer to do it a lot of things on an Internet using the mobile or using any any tablet or iPad. So all these technologies, if if we are supported by government, supported by a key player in the industry, at the end what is going to happen is that the user experience is going to be much, much, much better. And that means that the use of these technologies is going to be spread all over the world in terms of different people, not only young people, elderly people. So everyone wants to use mobile instead of going to grabbing the taxi, going to the branch office or the government office to do any kind of task effectively online. And once governments and key players are also paying attention to this, somehow they are embracing this technology that we’ve been developing in the last 10 to 12 years.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:07:27] I love that in and you know, from the perspective of industry stakeholders, you know, do you feel that that government coming into this space is going to be a positive in terms of the access and trust that we’re able to bring digital identities as they move throughout this ecosystem? Or do we think it’s going to be a challenge in the sense that broader use is going to maybe open the door for a greater set of fraud vectors and and new kinds of threats?
Javier Mira [00:08:02] Well, obviously, when you are opening doors in terms of new technologies to be applied and in general to the to the normal people, always you’re going to have some fraudsters trying to hack the systems. And, trying to take advantage of the new technologies. It’s a fight that we always have when we presented the first solution of authentication – we had a problem: some fraudsters trying to hack the system in terms of, liveness, etc. At the end, you have to go always one step ahead of these fraudsters, and governments, I think they are trying to do the same. What is clear is that you cannot stop the trend of people trying to use these technologies. So at the end, you have to use different companies, more companies, big companies, associations and stuff like this in order to, at the end, try to provide the end user with a technology completely secure and with a very good user experience. And at the end, obviously, you have to pay attention to fraudsters. You have to have your own walls and barriers in order to try to stop this hacking. But, I mean, it is what it is have been always before, you know, it’s in technology, but at the end is always the same.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:09:09] Yeah, I think the assumption that fraudsters with the skills to kind of make money in the space are just going to go away. If we keep deploying new technologies I think is a faulty one, I think there’s always going to be threat vectors. And and the question is, can you up the cost of fraud to the point where it becomes, you know, economically disadvantageous, obviously, you know, certain high value targets, it’s always going to be worth your while. But I think if we can get the most automated, the most repeatable, the most scalable forms of, you know, fraud and and threat vectors around biometrics sealed off. I think it’s really going to do folks a lot of good in terms of kind of the threat to the average individual consumer. Towards that end, we at Liminal really believe that liveness detection is, you know, going to be a key area of interest moving forward as biometrics continues to be adopted by new markets and new segments. Like What are your thoughts on liveness detection? Do you think liveness detection is a fundamental part of the biometrics matching stack and you know how it at face fears you guys tackling these challenges around liveness.
Javier Mira [00:10:24] Yeah absolutely absolutely I agree with you. But liveness is something that we started using liveness detection about five years ago. It’s been evolution a lot so today not only FacePhi, many companies are using like FacePhi passive living detection. So you don’t need to move your head or to speak to the to the camera. I mean, we have with using air, we have the capability to understand that the user is alive in front of the camera. But it’s true that in two years, probably fraudsters will be capable to to do some techniques in order to commit fraud. And at the end, what you have to do is to find any other factor that is helping to avoid fraudsters trying to take advantage of this technology. So as I said before, we are implementing technology. We don’t have only one liveness detection. We don’t have only one biometric. We don’t have only one live news detection. At the end, you try to combine different technologies and we have got this. They are using your mobile number with a SIM card that is also a kind of verification tool. That combined with biometrics, can be very powerful and you have to pay attention to all this tecnologies appearing every single year with different companies and combining them. What is true is that so far we’ve been doing hundreds of millions of things in the last year. We didn’t have problems in terms of being worried with what can be done but not known as a massive product before.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:12:03] Very interesting in terms of, you know, advances or rather well, I can call them advances. Advances in the technologies that we are seeing fraudsters, you know, come at your platform with. We have heard anecdotally that a lot of the new vectors that folks are seeing in terms of how folks are trying to penetrate and beat biometrics matching is, you know, through injection attacks where they are actually, you know, spoofing an image coming out of the camera completely using software to feed, you know, a stolen image of someone’s face in so that there’s nobody in front of the camera at all. They’ve just basically intercepted a camera image. Is that what you’re seeing on your end? Like, how are fraudsters kind of coming at these liveness technologies and and what has a little bit of that cat and mouse game been like on your end?
Javier Mira [00:12:59] Yeah. I mean, this is part of the of the game of today. We know that some fraudsters trying this injection of images to commit fraud. But at the end in our case that we have touched in the financial sector, you always have different factors and methods to avoid that. We do have also behavioral biometrics. We can even detect someone is typing a different way. Someone is using the phone or the or the mouse in a different way. And we can stop at this very moment, even if it’s their right face in front of the camera trying to commit the fraud you are using all the technology that are giving you an alert, geo localization and many, many all this, at the end is a combination of different tools saying, hey, we could be a fraud in this in this case. So we are not relying 100% on the facial recognition or OCR records. I think it’s a combination of reaching out because otherwise probably could be quite impossible.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:13:57] Yeah, I think, look, it’s it remains a fundamental right, as we said, cat and mouse game. You know, I don’t think you’re ever going to get to a point where, you know, people are not attacking and probing and searching. Again, I think it boils down to this fundamental challenge of like what kind of investment do these folks have to make in and what is that dollars and cents reality? You know, if you build a safe that costs $100 to break into that has $1,000,000 in it, that’s a massive incentive for folks to be attacking that safe. But, you know, if they have to spend $1,000,001 to break in and they only get a million, you know, mathematically, you would not expect someone to to make that investment. You know, not that everyone in the world is a rational actor, but I think ultimately more folks than not certainly slight pivot to I guess the you know, these inclusion elements that we’ve been we’ve been dancing around. I think one of the concerns around biometrics from that inclusion perspective is, you know, access to devices and things of that nature like, you know, does the user who we’re trying to be inclusive towards have access to the right type of device? And then beyond that, you know, we’ve seen historically that a lot of these technologies are maybe even biased against folks with certain skin tones. For example, you know, how are you thinking about inclusion more holistically across your platform? And and what are your hopes for how Face V can enable, you know, your financial services customers to bring more folks in who maybe previously had been kept out?
Javier Mira [00:15:35] Yeah. FacePhi, we are using what we call ethical biometrics in the last three years that we try to be as inclusive as possible. We try to use our technologies always with the permission of the end user so we don’t use our technology if you are not giving your permission to be involved in whatever ao is necessary to receive your permission before you can use the technology. In terms of inclusivity, I mean, the last thing is using a machine learning algorithms to be able to detect, have the same accuracy. It doesn’t matter the tone of your from your skin has been proven out. So today the rates for positive or negative, even with different tone of your skin or region where you are living we are in more or less a certain level of accurracy. And I wouldn’t say that we have a big issue in this in this problem, as we had in the past. Another thing is that some of the companies that they use facial recognition for one to end that means for video surveillance, etc., in some cases can be some some problems with different entnicities or different people. But in our case that we don’t do this kind of solutions we never had this problem. And hopefully we will not have this problem because as I said, without your permission, you can not use FacePhi technology. So obviously, that is a is a different point.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:17:02] Fantastic. I mean, look, I think what it it takes is a concerted effort from across industry to, you know, make a push around these things. Because, unfortunately, the you know, the market reality has been. We will not be punished by by platforms if our biometrics don’t meet certain thresholds or, you know, levels of inclusiveness. It hasn’t really been it hasn’t cost folks money. So it’s really heartening to see, you know, that you are taking a proactive approach to this, because I really do think that, like long term, if you look at the real economics and not just a quick snapshot, like I think it is not only good ethics, but I think it is good business to have a platform that can be as accommodating as possible. Because the reality is, if you can’t have a customer come in through the automated channels, through the application, you know, get back into their account when they’re locked out, whatever the use case that overflow that like I have to go to the branch that I have to call somebody on the phone. All of these things like that costs a lot of money. That’s maybe the most expensive part about any sort of customer coming through the process are the exceptions. You know, so this notion that, oh, we don’t need to worry about inclusion because it’s not a business challenge or or this isn’t a bottom line issue, I think is a faulty assumption. And and hopefully, you know, you guys can maybe, you know, prove prove empirically that, you know, it is good not only good ethics, but it is good business to be thinking about inclusion in these ways.
Javier Mira [00:18:41] Yeah, absolutely. And at the end is good business as long as reputation is also business. If we talking with financial of entities for them even reputation is more important than the investment that they used todo in this king of technology. And so as long as you just give the confidence in the client and to the end user that your technology is implicit and the reputation of the financial entity is somehow in good hands is always becoming a good business for all the parties.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:19:14] I couldn’t agree more. We are coming up towards the end of our time here. Quick final question for you. You know, if you were to pull out your your magic crystal ball, gaze into it, make some predictions for the future of the space, whether it’s biometrics, whether it’s digital identity more broadly, what do you see?
Javier Mira [00:19:34] Well, it’s difficult to have a crystal ball, obviously, but I think many people that we have in this business will probably agree that decentralization of data related to identity is going to be the future. So we as an end user, we will be capable, we will share the information that we want, any transaction, any interaction that we do have with our retail store, with new mall cinema, theater. If you want to share your facial recognition pattern, if you want to share your fingerprint pattern or we want to share your date of birth, it’s going to be you, it’s going to be managing this. And the storage of this information is going to be on blockchain. So probably is going to be much easier for all of us to have a real identity system where we feel a lot of privacy is in control and we are not depending on government any private company.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:20:36] Fantastic. And, you know, in that decentralization realm, like. Feels like you believe that, you know, there is always going to be room for third party platforms and that, you know, biometrics is not only going to be the exclusive realm of kind of an issuing government with a centralized biometric database. It sounds like the vision that you see is a bit more of an approach that includes a robust role for the private sector. Is that a safe assessment?
Javier Mira [00:21:10] Yeah, it’s correct. I see that probably if I were to make a bet, I would say that probably is a hybrid model where imagine that I do the involvement with with one specific bank. And once I’ve been doing my enrollment, we are capable to develop a blockchain network that is capable to transmit this information. And I want to do that in another interaction with the government or with an airline or any airport. They could be using my data that has been imported with one specific bank, and this bank is sharing this information and obviously being compensated through a blockchain networks. Right. At the end I think should be much easier. We are capable to develop this. So probably a collaboration between public sector and private sector, related to blockchain I think is going to be is going to be the next the next step that we have to look for.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:22:03] Fantastic, I think. For what it’s worth, I agree with you. You know, I think this approach with both public private partnerships, as well as private sector players as well as public sector players, I think is going to make the most sense, obviously. There’s not just one. It’s not a silver bullet solution. I think it is going to take all these different approaches. But Javier, thank you so much for your time. For folks who are listening, who want to get in touch, learn more about the platform, you know how to deploy it or have any of their burning questions answered around your capabilities. What’s the best place for them to go?
Javier Mira [00:22:38] Thank you, Cameron. It’s been a pleasure to me. I mean, anyone listening in this broadcast needs any information about FacePhi about this sector. They can just go to our website that is FacePhi.com and try to reach us. We will be more than happy to try to answer the questions.
Cameron D’Ambrosi [00:22:56] Amazing. Thank you so much.
Javier Mira [00:22:59] Thank you, Cameron.
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