Blockchain and biometrics: The tech disrupting banking

November 9, 2017

As the banking industry changes at a rapid pace, one term is being used with increasing frequency — blockchain. Put simply, blockchain refers to a tamper-proof, distributed digital ledger that records transactions. Instead of different parties involved in a transaction keeping their own records of that transaction — which could potentially differ and cause confusion — blockchain creates one “master” record. This cannot be changed once a transaction has been recorded.

While blockchain technology offers new ways of carrying out transactions, other innovations could help to boost the security of financial dealings. One such development is the increasing use of biometrics in banking. Already, many of us use our fingerprints to unlock our smartphones, and there is a range of potential applications.

BIOMETRICS… MEET BLOCKCHAIN

Blockchain technologies are revolutionizing our world, but along with the adoption of digital assets come new usability challenges and a need for interoperable security protocols.

Blockchain with a strong mobile voice biometric authentication solution– Why use voice biometric authentication to secure your mobile accounts? A voice biometric engine will analyze a user’s voiceprint at the time of login and scan for a variety of determining factors before granting him or her entry. With a voice biometric authentication solution in place, you can rest assured that all transactions within your blockchain are placed intentionally.

Securing the Identity Claim

But where will the identity claim reside? Today, the government issues identity claims in the form of documents that are difficult to counterfeit – birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports. There are about a dozen companies actively working on identity solutions, independent of any central authority, such as a government body or enterprise, or physical representation. All of these solutions involve identity claims residing on a blockchain to achieve decentralization, executable contracts, secure encryption, and consensus.

To this end, a few standards are beginning to emerge. These include Decentralized Identity Documents, but most are nascent efforts that reside on specific blockchains (public or private). In fact, the term “blockchain” is currently ambiguously interpreted as specifically referring to the Bitcoin blockchain, the Ethereum blockchain, or any number of Permissioned Distributed Ledger Technologies.

Blockchain of the Future

It will require robust open communities to achieve interoperable identity standards across blockchains as envisioned by proponents of self-sovereign identity (SSI). This will free application developers from the current cacophony of identity formats and blockchain-specific ecosystems. Such identity formats will need to be long-lived, on chains that persist for decades using standards that accommodate evolving capabilities.

Long-term design is difficult, but not impossible. Indeed, standardization is likely to happen quickly, much as the Internet itself appeared almost overnight as a newly interoperable conglomeration of previously existing networks. When such convergence happens for identity, it can be predicted that biometrics will become the primary method for linking you with identity claims on these blockchains, as it offers the most convenience. The question lies in how we deploy those solutions, and protect the biometric data independently of the blockchain itself.

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