May 18, 2024

From Fingers to Cards: Transforming Identification with Biometric Technology

Traditional identification methods like passwords, PINs and physical cards are prone to theft and fraud. To address these challenges, the concept of biometric card was introduced which uses an individual’s unique biometric attributes like fingerprints, iris scan or facial recognition for authentication. In this article, we will discuss what biometric card is, how it works and explores its potential to revolutionize identity verification.

What is a Biometric Card?

A biometric card is a secure identification document that contains biometric templates of an individual instead of traditional information like name, date of birth etc. printed on the card. The biometric templates are stored in an embedded chip on the card. These biometric attributes could be fingerprints, iris scan, voice recognition or facial features that are unique to that individual.

During identity verification, the biometric card reader scans the biometric attribute of the card holder and matches it with the biometric template stored on the card chip. If the scanned biometric data matches with the template, the identity is verified. Apart from biometric data, the card may also contain personal details and photograph of the holder. These cards use advanced encryption technology to keep biometric templates and personal data highly secure.

How does it work?

The working of a biometric card is quite simple. During enrollment, the individual’s selected biometric attribute like fingerprint is scanned and extracted as a digital template. This template is then encrypted and stored in the chip embedded in the card.

During verification, the individual places their finger on the Biometric Card  reader, which scans the fingerprint and extracts a digital copy. This scanned fingerprint is then matched with the encrypted template stored on the biometric card. The card reader decrypts the template and runs pattern or minutiae matching algorithms to compare focal details between the scanned print and stored template. If the scanned print matches over a certain threshold with the template, identity is verified. The whole process takes only a few seconds.

Benefits of Biometric Card

High Security: Biometric templates stored on the card make impersonation almost impossible as biometric attributes are unique to an individual. Even if the card is lost or stolen, no one else can use it without the valid biometric scan.

Convenience: Verification through biometrics is contactless and faster than swiping a card or entering passwords. This improves security checks at points like airport entry gates.

Reliable Authentication: Biometrics provide a reliable way to identify people as they are extremely difficult to forge or share unlike ID cards or passwords. Verification is done through live biometric scans every time.

Potential Applications

National ID Programs: Countries are exploring adopting biometric ID cards for programs like Aadhaar in India to uniquely identify citizens. This improves access to services and curbs identity thefts.

Travel Documents: Biometric passports and visas with fingerprint or iris templates are becoming common to smoothly pass through borders. This strengthens travel security.

Banking Security: Fingerprint or facial authentication on biometric debit/credit cards can add an extra layer of security for online transactions and ATM withdrawals.

Access Control: Organizations can use biometric cards to manage building access, tracking employee work hours and securely log into devices like laptops or phones.

Healthcare: Biometric health cards containing medical records and live patient verification can help curb insurance frauds and securely share health profiles with doctors and pharmacies.

Challenges of Biometric Cards

Performance Issues: Environmental factors like dry/wet fingers can impact fingerprint scanning. Iris recognition requires closer physical placement under readers.

High Costs: Development of biometric card systems with advanced encryption and live verification demands heavy investments compared to traditional smart cards.

Privacy Concerns: Storage of biometric templates raises fears of potential misuse if data is compromised or centralized databases are hacked. However, with encryption this risk is minimized.

Interoperability: Lack of global standards for biometric data storage makes cross-verification between different card systems challenging.

As identity theft becomes more sophisticated, biometric attributes provide reliable authentication compared to passwords or pins. Advancements in miniaturization of biometric sensors and encryption now allow contactless verification using biometric cards. Though challenges of performance and costs exist, the benefits of security and convenience are fueling global adoption of biometric ID programs. With standards and further progress, biometric cards have potential to emerge as de facto identity documents globally in the near future.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it