Some of the advantages that technological progress brings is the increase in security and the willingness to facilitate the way we do things. These are one of the many reasons why biometrics were created and are still used today in several places where you probably have not noticed.
First, let’s start by defining what exactly biometrics is and then see what types there are, as well as their specific functions. Biometrics is the study for the unambiguous recognition of people based on one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits, according to Wikipedia.
Biometrics can be of two types: physiological and behavioral. The first is based on features of our own body (fingerprints, iris, retina, voice…) to convert them into identification parameters, while the second derives from a concrete action, such as walking or writing (hence the biometric signature has that name).
In the case of today, the fingerprint biometry is within the physiological, where we also have the face (many phones are unlocked as well today), the iris or even the heart rate (Mastercard is working on this type of identification).
This form of authentication has emerged as necessary in the face of the growing trend of the use of digital services and the need for greater protection of the storage of sensitive data of users.
Among the types of authentication that exist, fingerprint biometrics is classified as one based on something that is. Its main advantage is that the biometric elements are unique for each individual, highly resistant to fraud and very comfortable to use, since they do not need to be remembered, unlike a password, which can easily be forgotten if a good organization is not carried out.
Uses of finger biometrics
The use of biometrics is far from being a futuristic issue, but it has been applied for years in different sectors. Then we tell you what uses the fingerprint currently and what new ways we will see in the short and medium term.
Identification in border control
The main document to travel around the world is the passport. In the case of Spain (and many other countries), inside the RFID chip [i] that incorporates the passport, the fingerprints of both indexes of the carrier are stored, which is then compared in the immigration offices to the exit or entrance of a country for its correct identification.
The use of biometric passports is widespread and the vast majority of countries (see map) have this document for a higher level of protection of the entry and exit of people. In addition to the increase in security, it also helps streamline the process and lighten the management of lines at the borders.
Enter your hotel room
The traditional way of entering a hotel room is through a magnetic card, which has the disadvantage that it can be easily lost or stolen.
Thanks to fingerprint biometrics, the customer registers their fingerprints at the entrance of their stay and these are associated with a room (and other rooms that have access to your reservation) during the period of accommodation. In this way, there is greater security and the customer does not have to worry about always carrying the magnetic card with him.
Unlock your mobile
The classic mobile protection system has been a small password, normally four digits, which is not exactly an authentication method too safe, especially now that we keep more and more important things inside the mobile phone (credit card, access to the bank, social networks…).
The use of fingerprints in the mobile is slightly limited in iOS because in smartphones with Android systems can be used by any third-party application, while Apple so far restricts its use to its own system.
One more form of payment
In the European Union there is the disadvantage that there is no public database in which the fingerprints can be checked and a person’s identity can be corroborated in real time. However, there are several countries in Latin America that, due to the high levels of fraud, do allow this comparison to be carried out and there are companies specialized in this.
Thanks to this situation it is possible, for example, to use the fingerprint as a form of payment, without having to carry cash or credit cards with you.
This system was launched two years ago in Venezuela, an ideal country for this case since biometric recognition has been previously used in various aspects, such as with electronic voting or identification at ATMs.
The credit card companies are also taking advantage of this technology to implement it within the cards themselves. In this way, card reader device can verify the identity of its owner with his fingerprint before allowing payment.
Fingerprint as evidence in a signature process
In digital signature processes you can use your own fingerprint as an element of identification of the person and as another evidence to offer greater security and legal validity to the contract in question.
The objective of the evidence in these processes is to help make them safer. Therefore, it is better to have several to reinforce this aspect, such as fingerprint or a code (OTP) sent to the mobile phone.
What is achieved with fingerprints is to identify the individual perfectly, since they are unique and non-transferable. In this way, the conditions for obtaining an advanced electronic signature, fully legality according to eIDAS, the regulation of the European Union, are met.
The fingerprint is not the only form of biometrics that can be used in these processes, since the biometric signature (or advanced electronic signature) is capable of collecting unique data from each person such as the speed or pressure of the trace, always that you have a compatible device for this purpose. The same goes for signing with voice.
Biometrics in general, and fingerprint biometrics in particular, is making great strides in offering greater protection and security to the user and making their lives easier. Already in the present, we use our fingerprint every day to enter the gym or unlock the mobile, and very soon, we will continue using it for many other daily actions.
[i] Data storage and retrieval system used, for example, in pet chips for identification or in clothes for tracking and preventing theft.