INTERVIEW: Mohammed Murad, Vice President, Iris ID

INTERVIEW: Mohammed Murad, Vice President, Iris IDFindBiometrics President Peter O’Neill recently spoke with Mohammed Murad, Vice President, Global Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Iris ID. The conversation begins with talk of Iris ID’s presence at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and how iris recognition is gaining a great deal of momentum in mobility, finance, and other popular markets. Talk then turns to Iris ID’s long-time involvement in India’s Aadhaar national ID program, the increased demand for iris in border control markets, and the challenges of working with CERN, which has deployed Iris ID technology for access control in its hi-tech facilities.

Read on below for our full interview with Mohammed Murad, Vice President, Global Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Iris ID:


Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics (FB): I met with you and Iris ID at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, what was your take on this large gathering?

Mohammed Murad, Vice President, Global Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Iris ID, Inc.: It is an enormous gathering and mobility is being integrated into every part of our life. Additionally, what is great for us as a biometric company is to see biometric technologies and solutions be integrated into the many aspects of mobile communications. And what is more exciting is that we are hearing and understanding from a lot of the vendors and manufacturers, that iris recognition is going to be the next big biometric wave and they are considering integrating the technology into most of their mobile solutions. I walked away very excited as did our engineering team. We are very, very pleased to see iris starting to take off in the mobile space.

FB: It is interesting, as we felt exactly the same thing… iris recognition is really gaining momentum especially as you mentioned in mobility, but also in transportation and in a lot of other areas. Why is this happening now? What do you think is driving this growth, Mohammed?

Iris ID: I believe that the market is very educated about the utilization of biometrics in different aspects of various applications. Now they are looking for a non-contact and more accurate and convenient solution. For those applications, you have face recognition and iris recognition. We all know iris recognition has a greater accuracy than any other biometric around. So, I believe it is becoming easier to incorporate it into mobile solutions and the accuracy is really intriguing for some of these manufacturers and users.

FB: The Indian National Identity Program, Aadhaar, just recently topped 1 billion enrollees. Just saying that number is mind boggling! Iris ID has been involved since the beginning, can you please tell us about your involvement in this program?

Iris ID: Absolutely. We are very honored to be part of the world’s largest enrollment exercise and now that enrollment is really going to turn into an authentication application on many different vertical markets including finance, social welfare, etc. So, we have been involved since the beginning, since 2009, working with the different authorities and integrators to be able to deploy this efficiently and have it available for these future authentication applications. Recently I heard that Aadhaar is going to be involved in time & attendance authentication as well as payment disbursement and many other applications. This is really exciting for Iris ID to know that we have been involved with the world’s largest biometric enrollment and authentication application.

FB: I remember talking to you, Mohammed, when they reached the 100 million mark and we thought that was outstanding. The one billion seems to be such an incredible number and in such a quick time. How did they do that?

Iris ID: I think they took a very novel approach on privatizing the enrollment process and paying or reimbursing people on the volume of enrollment, so instead of the government adding more employees to facilitate the process, they went to the private sector market and changed the whole paradigm of enrolling the population. There are some positives and there are some negatives in that process but I think they have done a pretty good job of maintaining the quality of enrollment.

FB: You are involved in many different vertical markets, from border control—and as you just mentioned, time & attendance—to access control, to national ID, where are you seeing the most activity right now?

Iris ID: We are seeing a lot of activity in national ID and border control applications. Because migration has become a greater concern and safety and security has risen to the top of all that, the movement of people between borders has increased so the process needs to be automated for accurately identifying individuals. Authorities just can’t add more people on the borders; they need to automate and biometrics—specifically iris—is a very good solution for automating and still maintaining a high level of security. We are seeing growth in every part of our business and vertical markets but in border crossing we are seeing a great deal of interest as well as in national ID. A recent report stated that by 2025 almost 60-70 percent of countries will have a biometrically enabled ID card. That is great news for us, that there will be more activity in those areas. And then with identity cards come other authentication solutions, from finance to passport control etc.

FB: It really is an exciting time in our industry to see such explosive growth across many different vertical markets. Financial services was one of the first but it is happening everywhere right now, wouldn’t you agree?

Iris ID: Absolutely, you know financial services were one of the early adopters of our technology in their data centers and now they have moved iris recognition technology from data centers to the front office. But now the financial institutions I’m talking to would like to have iris recognition enabled on mobile devices, tablets and workstations so they can increase the level of security needed to have access to their information. I believe the financial sector is again going to be the visionary vertical that is going to use our technology in much more creative ways.

FB: And on the other end of the deployment spectrum, one of your deployments that fascinates me is CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research known as CERN )… the one that includes the Large Hadron  Collider, mostly because I am fascinated with that. But I understand some of your units are a hundred meters below ground, it’s quite interesting. Can you tell us some of the challenges with that project?

Iris ID: Anytime you get involved with science at that level where you are starting to split atoms you know they are going to ask tons of questions about your technology. Our biggest challenge was that these are very secure facilities and to be able to have a completely integrated application where the weight of the individual is involved, the measurement of radiation before they allow the individual to enter the facility – all those complexities made it interesting to be involved with the CERN organization and their integration partners to assure that a very solid solution is delivered to them. We are very excited, it is a very cool place. I have visited there once and it’s like the Star Trek Enterprise.

FB: You also exhibited at the ISC West conference April 3-6 in Las Vegas, what were you highlighting there?

Iris ID: The focus there, as you know, is on the application suites for access control and time & attendance solutions, so we were highlighting our new generation of devices. There are some new integration tools that we were displaying and we also demonstrated our web enabled solutions for access control etc.  It was a great show for Iris ID!

FB: Well Mohammed thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. A very exciting time for biometrics but for iris in particular. It has been a pleasure speaking with you about your company.

Iris ID: Thank you very much Peter.