INTERVIEW: Daniel Asraf, SVP Biometrics Business Line, Gemalto

INTERVIEW: Daniel Asraf, SVP Biometrics Business Line, GemaltoFindBiometrics President Peter O’Neill recently interviewed Daniel Asraf, Senior Vice President Biometrics Business Line, Gemalto. The conversation begins with talk of how Gemalto’s 2017 acquisition of 3M’s identity business has affected the company, before going on to detail the vertical markets it’s pursuing. O’Neill and Asraf then discuss the rise of multimodality and Gemalto’s biometric product lineup, inevitably concluding with a preview of what’s next for the company.

Read our full interview with Daniel Asraf, Senior Vice President Biometrics Business Line, Gemalto:


Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics: We are about a half year into the 3M biometric acquisition, now that you have the availability to provide biometric solutions in house, how has that helped your company?

Daniel Asraf, Senior Vice President Biometrics Business Line, Gemalto: Tremendously. I think getting it closer to other areas other than just law enforcement, defense and intelligence is really fueling a lot of positive spirits within the team because everyone sees what is happening on the financial front and also other areas with biometrics in terms of convenience and access control. We’ve had products that have fit that market but have had challenges reaching that market and now being part of the Gemalto family has really opened up doors for us to be able to use Gemalto’s broader product portfolio as vehicles to reach and benefit all of these other segments.

FindBiometrics: You started to talk about vertical markets and, having just come from the Money20/20 show, obviously FinTech and financial services are very hot. But there are so many other markets – AI was actively discussed, IoT, the fact that biometrics will be the way we communicate with robots, autonomous vehicles are growing, healthcare is on the verge – what vertical markets excite you and your company?

Gemalto: A lot of them. I would say that indeed the financial market, healthcare as you mentioned, and retail. But we also have access controls to secure critical infrastructure, facilities and assets in a broader context. I think that is another area that excites us a lot. Seeing the breaches that are occurring and knowing that we are sitting on solutions that can really protect these types of assets for people, so it is something that, of course, excites us. I’m talking now about other segments outside our typical segments, but I would also like to mention our core work with law enforcement, public security, defense, and intelligence. With the increase of threats and a turbulent global climate, we feel strongly about these markets and providing technology and solutions that can help safeguard individuals. That is where our core is but we also see that we can use biometrics for a lot of added security, and multifactor for convenience securing assets and protecting individuals.

FindBiometrics: The areas that you mentioned have been long standing, very significant markets for biometrics. How have you seen those change or evolve over the last few years?

Gemalto: So, I would say that law enforcement typically has been a little bit slower to change. They are bound by a lot of regulatory requirements and not only in the US but also internationally by often pretty heavy administrative compliance and processes. So, maybe the movement there is less dramatic compared to the commercial sector but we see changes there too. There is an increased cost pressure on government and agencies and movement to the cloud can benefit them from a cost and efficiency point of view but so would, I think, utilizing biometrics in an even broader context. We know that law enforcement was primarily fingerprint back in the day but that is aggressively broadening to multimodal biometrics that use big data –  surveillance video, pictures from social media, for example – as a source for biometric data. That opens up doors for the biometrics area to look at facial recognition in very challenging conditions like non-cooperative scenarios. Object detection, event detection as well as other, softer biometrics like gait can help piece together all this information to do lead generation and help solve crimes.

So, we see a push for accuracy and speed also for collecting more available information across other biometric modalities and even non-biometric data in order to tie information together – event detection and object detection data.

FindBiometrics:  Multimodal applications have certainly risen dramatically!

Gemalto: Yes, particularly in the commercial sector where consumers are becoming more conscious of their information security even if they are not always willing to sacrifice convenience in favor of security. But Gemalto is trying to help safeguard individuals’ data in consumer apps with more hands-off biometrics that work more in the background. Our banking and payments team developed the Assurance Hub that uses behavioral biometrics to measure the pressure you put on your phone when you type, the angle you hold it at, where you are in the world and other data like that, then determine a level of certainty that you’re you. If the behavioral system can’t be sure that you’re really you, it then prompts users to type in a passcode or, better, unlock their app with facial recognition.

FindBiometrics: Could you review your biometric product lineup please?

Gemalto: Our portfolio is essentially spanning everything biometrics, starting from the core biometric algorithm. We have the science component behind everything; the engine behind everything. We span from mobile devices for acquisition for one-to-one or one-to-few verification, access control devices and biometric scanners to acquire the biometric raw data. These are fingerprint scanners or multi-print scanners, iris scanners, etc., and all of this is bundled up to client solutions like our Livescan Station. Law enforcement can use Livescan Station to book people facing charges, or it can be used to enroll civilians for civil identity programs, licenses and passports and such. The Station comes in different form factors such as large kiosks for law enforcement, but also in jump kits where you have the software and equipment in something like a pelican case. That’s a good summary of our front-end, client side portfolio.

We also have our Gemalto Cogent ABIS solution, which is our automated biometric identification system, which I would say is our flagship product. It is used in different form factors for border control and law enforcement, and operators can use the application to do latent examinations or other lead generation and case management tasks. We’re famous for the back end of the ABIS solution, which leads in accuracy and speed and is used, for example, in programs like the US Office of Biometric Management’s program for entry and exit at the country’s borders.

Then we have our fairly new member to our portfolio, LFIS or the Live Face Identification System. That is also a client server application that allows for a fairly thin front end with a massive back end that is massively scalable to be able to handle thousands of cameras as well as to be able to do many-to-many identification. That means we can capture multiple people in a frame of a camera and identify them all simultaneously. And the scalability of that – how many we estimate in each frame and how many we match per second – is all configurable within the software footprint.

I’d also like to mention yet another member of our portfolio which is probably less known which we call the Applicant Processing Solution which is a service that we provide that allows state and other agencies to conduct background checks. So, we partner with a lot of different front-end stores like FedEx Center, UPS, places like that. Sometime this is set up in various hospitals or government agencies but this service is essentially the spider in the web that handles acquisition and submission for background checks. For example: if you are going to employ someone for a daycare center, some of the regulatory requirements are, of course, a background check, so we have a service that enables this to be done seamlessly for the end consumer.

FindBiometrics:  Well you certainly have a full portfolio in your lineup covering multiple biometric modalities and different applications and it is quite remarkable. I am very familiar with Cogent and have known them for over 15 years. Thank you very much for the product update.

What is next for Gemalto as we move down the road, with Apple’s recent announcement about their face recognition on the iPhone X; the Equifax breach? It seems like we are being bombarded woth reasons to use biometrics more. What is next for Gemalto?

Gemalto: I think that, on the research front, we are always looking at disruptive technology. Having Cogent being part of Gemalto is really opening us up to provide solutions that will differentiate into these other market segments, more into commercial markets. I think we will see a lot of our technologies targeting multimodal but also multifactor, because I think that we have a unique solution to secure commercial apps without adding cumbersome authentication mechanisms for users, instead doing it in a convenient fashion with biometrics.

We mentioned before multimodal, and from a law enforcement perspective multimodal is obviously critical to solve more crime. In the commercial world multimodal is secure and it is also adding convenience. You can authenticate yourself in many different ways based on your preference as the end consumer on how you want to do this.

I think that back to the R&D question on what is next, we see great movement in a lot of different scientific areas. Machine learning could enhance our technology to make it even more convenient and even more accessible. We also see the expansion of blockchain and we’re working on how we can add security to these types of infrastructure. I think as you see more people online with the expectation of being able to pay and identify themselves seamlessly, and our solutions can help with that. I think in the future we will have a simple credential – just like today we have a passport that is recognized everywhere – with a simple federated credential that users can use everywhere that they go in a digital fashion without having to enroll in each individual place, and without having to have a specific account for each individual place. We will have, I think, an identity that we can carry with us both in a digital world but also in a physical world and we will therefore be able to expand trust in all of our transactions and minimize breaches. In brief, some of those things are going to play a big part on where we are going moving forward.

FindBiometrics:  We are in total agreement with you there and at the same time getting rid of passwords, getting rid of dongles, getting rid of carrying too many things. End users in the consumer market are certainly heading there, but also large organizations are as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today.

Gemalto: No problem Peter, I appreciate it and have a good time in Toronto.