When it comes to accessing key financial services, the ability to positively and clearly identify oneself is crucial. In the past, this identification relied on a customer going into their bank’s branch with physical proof of their identity and in-person proof of their biometrics, such as their fingerprints. As digital platforms in financial services grow in sophistication and the idea of ‘branchless banking’ becomes a reality, customers have access to new efficiencies and personalised services. However, in order to transact securely, banks need to employ an Identity Verification (IDV) platform at scale. With some customers still reliant on physical channels, the evolution of face authentication brings up relevant issues of accessibility. 

Historically, biometric identification has been for the privileged few – the technologically advanced with access to hi-tech, leading-edge equipment – providing access to services that are typically not for the digitally excluded. 

Gur Geva, CEO and Founder of iiDENTIFii says, “While it may have been viewed as inaccessible before, remote face authentication has a crucial role to play in bridging the digital divide. The digitally excluded are missing out on access. Without access, the keys to both social and financial inclusion are unreachable and those without access to newer technologies are disadvantaged in healthcare, education and financial support.” 

An inclusive digital identity approach provides citizens with access to basic critical government services such as labour markets, government benefits and financial services.  It can also unlock opportunities for people who have an identity but are limited in their ability to use this in the digital world. 

There is still a need to bridge the digital divide and the answer to this lies in a considered, omni-channel approach. GSMA’s State of Mobile and Connectivity Report states that more than half the mobile phones in Sub-Saharan Africa are connecting through 3G, 4G and 5G handsets, meaning that, due to the availability of cheaper handsets, mobile users are connecting via devices of varying sophistication. 

Geva explains, “Our technology platform is available on both Android & IOS (Software Development Kit (SDKs)) and is used by very low end all the way to very high end smartphones. We are device-agnostic, meaning our platform can work on any  hardware device – tablets, laptops and computers.” What this means is that, while some sort of technological device is required to establish and confirm identity, it doesn’t have to be the fastest or most sophisticated device on the market. 

The GSMA report also noted that, while users are connecting via mobile, many are only connecting for a limited period of time. The connectivity varies widely by different socio-economic groups and by country income levels. Therefore, an inclusive onboarding process has to accommodate various data, connectivity and device access levels.  iiDENTIFii’s solution includes a ‘hand-off’ to mobile omni-channel feature, which allows users to begin the verification on their tablets or laptops, move seamlessly to their mobile phone to complete the authentication and onboarding process, and then revert to their respective laptop. “We offer a mobile, as well as a web-based SDK, which allows users to simply click on a link to authenticate themselves as opposed to downloading a large SDK on their phone.”

“The future of banking in Africa is digital. Financial institutions, in partnership with IDV providers such as iiDENTIFii, have a responsibility to ensure that biometric identity verification is secure, simple and accessible,” adds Geva. With this sentiment in mind, iiDENTIFii is building on its foundation in sub-Saharan Africa and extending its biometric liveness solution in 20 countries, including Kenya, Angola, Uganda, DRC, and Botswana. 

“Using sound, scalable omni-channel technology and leveraging our local in-country partnerships, we believe that we can help secure and onboard customers across the continent. This will not only make transacting safer, but give more people access to digital banking and governmental services,” Geva concludes.  

Posted: May 31st, 2023