Biometric selfie-based authentication has emerged in recent years as one of the most buzzy trends in FinTech, and as one of its most prominent pioneers, FacePhi has been riding the crest of that wave. The company made a name for itself with its Selphi authentication solution, which has caught on among a number of banks, primarily in the Latin American region; and at last year’s Money20/20 USA event FacePhi announced a massive expansion into new technologies and solutions under the banner of its inPhinite platform. This momentum has continued well into 2019, with FacePhi announcing major new capital backing in September, and a big step into the healthcare sector at the start of this month.
Naturally, this expansion beyond the financial services market proved to be an important part of the latest discussion between FacePhi CEO Javier Mira and Peter O’Neill, President of FindBiometrics and Mobile ID World. They also discussed the financial backing from Nice & Green, FacePhi’s big plans for this year’s Money20/20 USA event – including the promise of new product launches – and Mira’s views on the role of regulation in the field of biometrics and facial recognition in particular.
Read the full interview with Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhi:
Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics: This has been a very successful year for FacePhi, please tell us about your growth.
Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhi: We had a very successful 2018 at FacePhi and we ended the year with a big number of new banks using our technology, and at the same time a relevant increase in revenue and a positive EBITDA. In 2019 we have been able to close more deals compared to last year in terms of the number of new accounts. Hopefully we will see how these new clients will impact our figures by the end of the year because the last quarter is the most important one for us.
We have incorporated new clients which have already acquired digital onboarding and Selphi licensing, but final numbers will be shown later this quarter. We’re hoping for good results but we are still waiting to see the final results.
Peter O’Neill, President, Mobile ID World: Thank you. One of the most important financial services conferences is occurring at the end of the month – Money20/20 in Las Vegas, and I know that you will be speaking there. What will you be highlighting there at this year’s show?
Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhi: As always, we will be presenting new products and solutions during the Money2020 event, but this year we will be introducing a new tech related to facial recognition applied on all our solutions: Selphi, SelphID, ATMs, etc. At the same time, we will be presenting updates to our platform inPhinite. As an example, we have updated the liveness capability which is 100 percent passive, and which is a lot more efficient and effective than the liveness technology that we have in the market. We already showed this liveness solution to some of our clients and they are really excited about implementing it. It is something that was pending from last year. On one hand is authentication, digital onboarding, etc. but being able to detect if a person is alive in front of the device without any interaction from the user. One hundred percent passive is a game changer of the technology, and we will be presenting it at Money20/20.
Peter O’Neill, President, Mobile ID World: I’m glad to hear about the liveness part of it as we are getting a lot of questions in that area recently so it is good that you are going to be covering that at Money20/20.
You recently also announced a push into healthcare with the Swiss Medical Group. We have also recognized that healthcare is going to be a big market for biometrics. Can you please tell us about your push into healthcare?
Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhi: It is something that we recently announced and it is a big move for FacePhi. FacePhi, as you know, has been working exclusively in the financial sector over the last few years. It is true that the healthcare market is growing and that there is good demand for digital onboarding. We are hoping to replicate the success that we have had in the financial sector in the healthcare market, as well as some other markets. Healthcare is one of the more important markets in biometrics in terms of investment nowadays. Obviously for us to have the first successful case in healthcare will help us in 2020 in order to start creating a new area for development.
Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics: I applaud your move into that marketplace as we also think this is going to be the next hot market for biometrics; they are quite a bit behind financial services and again I think education is going to be critical in that marketplace.
You have recently secured an investment in your company from Nice & Green, can you tell us a little bit about that please?
Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhi: We signed a great deal with Nice & Green who are from Switzerland and the idea is to use these funds (4 million Euros) to push the growth of the company and also to hire new talent in order to improve our technology and the structure of the company. We recently opened a subsidiary in Seoul, South Korea in order to be able to establish FacePhi in the area and to develop the market in some of the regions there. At the same time, we want to strengthen our position in Latin America and in Europe as we see good demand here. So, those funds coming from Nice & Green are going to help us in order to boost our sales as much as possible instead of waiting for extra profit to invest in the company. So, it will help accelerate the growth and hopefully we will have a bigger presence and impact in the market next year.
Peter O’Neill, President, Mobile ID World: That is good news. Our industry is definitely global and nice to see you expanding into South Korea. You really have a global footprint out there right now.
Can you give us your thoughts on some of the recent press in mainstream media on facial recognition?
Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhi: My view in facial recognition or, in any biometrics for that matter, is that it needs to be regulated. I love biometrics and I think they are really going to be strong in the next few years and today they are part of our lives in every aspect as on the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. Whenever we do things, we use biometrics but at the same time we need to regulate and keep our privacy and ensure that our data is in safe hands. When something is in strong demand, and that is happening quickly for biometrics, sometimes there are cases where it is a little bit scary because we need to keep our privacy, and we want to manage our identity, and to know where our biometrics information is going, and who is storing our data. In China, which isn’t very regulated, they are using facial recognition in many places in the cities for surveillance of their citizens, but you also have London that has the largest number of cameras in a city in the world that analyzes behavior and facial recognition but it is regulated and the government is implementing it in the right way.
From my perspective, as long as the governments are fairly applying the law and implementing regulations to ensure privacy and avoid breaches of data, then biometrics are good. Anytime there is a new technology like cryptocurrencies etc. it can be implemented in a good way, it can be implemented in a bad way, so there are needs to have regulations, but at the same time we need to open our arms to biometrics because I think there isn’t any other way.
Peter O’Neill, President, Mobile ID World: Thank you, Javier, for carving out some time for us today. I look forward to getting a chance to see you in Vegas at the Money20/20 show that is coming right up.
Javier Mira, CEO, FacePhi: Absolutely, Peter. You are more than welcome to visit our booth in Las Vegas and please come to see us at the conference “Biometrics as a Differentiator in Banking Industry,” where we will be showing the use case of ATM´s with facial recognition deployed in CaixaBank.