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It's a New Decade for Biometrics. Let’s wrap up 2019 and take a look at what's in store for 2020.

2019 has been a truly encouraging capstone to a decade of rapid biometric market development. Investments paid off. Questions of “if” have become questions of “how” and “when”. Vendors that struggled to break the $5 million revenue barrier have blasted though that milestone. Reader deployments are now counted int the tens of millions as smartphone biometrics are closing in on 100% availability. Skeptics are becoming advocates. And the serious and necessary work of addressing standards, integration, orchestration, and privacy policies and regulation are front and center. The industry appears to be “all grown up”.

Here are some of developments Acuity is watching as we forge ahead into the new decade…


Airports have become a launchpad for face recognition. Once established, biometric facilitation via face recognition quickly migrated from border control to boarding, from international travel to domestic, from single point solutions to improving passenger flow throughout the journey.

While there has been some pushback by privacy and civil liberty advocates, the benefits of expedited passenger facilitation have so far outweighed the concerns, traveler adoption has been swift. Today, airport biometric touchpoints are measured in the hundreds and thousands. Within 10 years, they'll be measured in the hundreds of thousands. And even the term “touchpoint” itself may become largely obsolete as free flow facilitation via passive face recognition - or as Acuity likes to say “do nothing” biometrics – is poised to replace document readers, kiosks, gates, or any other physical barrier.

In 2020, biometric boarding will blossom, single touchpoints will morph into seamless travel solutions, and connected experiences within the airport – from passenger facilitation to airline lounge entry to restaurants to retail - will move from pilots to production.


Speaking of face recognition, airports are just the beginning. Since the introduction of Apple’s FaceID, the rapid uptake of face-based mobile on-boarding and authentication solutions has soared. The bottom line is that for most folks, Face ID just works better than Touch ID ever did. Yes, it's a convenience not a security solution layered on top of a pin BUT Apple is once again “training” users to accept biometrics. This time a passive, painless one.

There are at least 35+ vendors offering some form biometric digital on-boarding solution with new market entrants continually joining the fray. While the face matching performance tests are still relevant, and there’s much work to be done on face recognition algorithms that are not biased towards the gender and racial identities of their creators, the mainstream assumption is that face recognition works. As the performance distinctions, as well as the positioning, of these companies continues to blur, questions swirl around which player(s) can separate from this increasingly indistinguishable, field.

2020 could be a year where one or more break away by bringing the same level of focused innovation to business models and strategic marketing as has been to technology development and performance


So said payments, money, and identity guru, Dave Birch when introducing a biometrics panel at the Vegas Money2020 in October 2019. Biometrics, once spurned as a minor afterthought, has made it to the "main stage" in the world of fintech. Frictionless has become synonymous with biometrics as smartphones have become the customer interface of choice for banking, payments, and a whole array of mobile financial services.

Dozens of vendors offer digital on-boarding solutions as well as biometric-based authentication. With the latest innovations in orchestrated customer experiences attempting to create seamless flows, financial service processes are taking their cues from airport passenger journeys. Who'd have thunk it?