A relative newcomer to the biometric authentication space, Incode made a big splash in November with the news that it had raised $10 million in funding on the strength of its Incode Omni identity platform. Whereas Incode had originally started as a photo sharing service provider, the company pivoted into facial recognition a few years ago, and quickly proved successful in iBeta testing of its liveness detection technology.
In a new interview with FindBiometrics Digital Content VP Susan Stover, Incode Founder and CEO Ricardo Amper discusses those humble beginnings and what led to the development of Incode’s highly sophisticated biometric platform. Their discussion also touches on the shift to contactless biometrics and remote working in the pandemic age, the importance of frictionless authentication in financial services, the major verticals in which Incode is interested, and more. The chat makes it pretty clear that Incode is an ambitious startup in the biometrics space; as Amper says, “we’re just getting started.”
Read the full interview with Ricardo Amper, Founder and CEO, Incode Technologies:
Susan Stover, VP of Digital Content, FindBiometrics: Ricardo, can you tell us about the genesis of your company and what solutions you offer?
Ricardo Amper, Founder and CEO, Incode Technologies: We got our start as a consumer platform for photo sharing. We had a vision that real-time face recognition could change the way people captured and secured their most treasured memories. But we quickly realized there was an even bigger market need in the enterprise.
Not too long after we officially released our consumer product, we began having conversations with major banks, financial institutions and governments. They were looking for a solution that unified all identities into one — managed under a single secure platform. That’s when we realized we were onto something big. Not only did we have the industry’s fastest and most secure passive liveness technology, LiveBeam — we also had the background in consumer technology to build a seamless and convenient experience into the product.
So about three years ago we decided to build an omnichannel platform called Incode Omni. The solutions bring authentication, digital and physical onboarding, and ID verification under one platform in an easy-to-integrate modular way. We’re having a lot of traction in financial services, which has been our main focus, and we’re expanding into marketplaces and hospitality.
Susan Stover: In the biometrics industry, we’ve already seen a shift to contactless, touchless, and even completely frictionless security over the past few years. Given the current pandemic crisis, how can modern onboarding and authentication methods help to ensure a more hygienic environment?
Ricardo Amper: There are going to be some major industry shifts. We’re going to see an uptick in demand in hospitality and healthcare given the fact that we can’t currently verify identities physically — at least for the time being. Telemedicine — when it comes to insurance, records, and authentication — is also going to be a major market for seamless identity.
I think there’s also going to be a shift in sentiment when it comes to biometrics. As remote working and remote interviewing becomes the norm, I think people are going to be a lot more open to all types of biometrics, especially technologies that do not require contact and physical touch, as long as consent is involved.
Currently, we’re offering our technology to governments that need help during the COVID-19 crisis. The system is designed to streamline the check-in process and reduce the amount of time it takes to validate identity for testing and, in the future, vaccine recipients. This will not only save people time, it will also provide governments and healthcare facilities with useful data.
In summation, remote identity is going to play a very important role in this current climate, and biometrics is going to be a key part of that.
Susan Stover: We met at Money20/20 USA and we saw that you had a huge presence when it comes to the financial services, and when we’re talking about financial services, in our recent 17th annual Year in Review, we had an overwhelming response that frictionless was the new F-word, which came from a previous Money20/20 show. How does Incode combine convenience and security when it comes to providing a frictionless user experience?
Ricardo Amper: What the modern consumer wants are experiences and convenience. They want a seamless, consistent and secure way to perform daily tasks like access their ATM, make payments, and access online accounts. Yet, what they get today is a hodge podge of technologies from multiple vendors and devices that make processes clunky and inefficient.
This is precisely why we built Incode Omni. We provide consumers with a wide range of services including the ability to open accounts, authenticate identity, and make payments seamlessly across any channel. The solution completely eradicates the friction and incompatibility across consumer services. The technology itself is unmatched, making it the most accurate and secure facial recognition software. That’s why it’s perfect for banks and financial services.
Today, we’re one of one of the few suppliers in the world that plays both in the digital onboarding space, as well as the authentication space. Our stack solves for every use case from document verification to facial recognition and facial authentication. We also offer it as a service, where it takes literally minutes to integrate and get up and running.
All of this was made possible by our brilliant team of computer vision and machine learning engineers that work hard to ensure our technology is compatible with today’s popular devices. They are also responsible for the intuitive UI / UX that make Incode an attractive offer for our customer’s customers.
We also offer it as a service, where it takes literally minutes to integrate and get going.
Susan Stover: We have seen the digital evolution take place within the world of financial services and Incode solutions like FacePay allows users to make payments using facial biometrics. You touched on this a bit before, but what other vertical markets does Incode provide solutions for?
Ricardo Amper: Great question. Incode can be used across any industry, even government. It’s perfect for countries — like in APAC or Europe — where PSD2 (regulation for electronic payment services) is a requirement.
Government is one we’re particularly excited about. We’re already in talks with a few national governments that are interested in our identity verification capabilities to prevent fraud. eCommerce is another major industry when it comes to payments. The current solutions available to consumers (think banking applications) are clunky and frustrate consumers, which creates a major opportunity for us.
Susan Stover: A major differentiator we’ve seen arise in the wake of high-profile presentation attacks is liveness detection. What is Incode’s approach to liveness detection? Why do you think this type of technology is becoming so important in biometrics?
Ricardo Amper: Liveness detection in the past was based mostly on hardware and had to be tied to a specific OEM solution. It wasn’t really focused on verifying the individual; it was just verifying a password to, say, open your phone, to give you a relatable example. Today, there’s a new wave of software-based liveness that gives you the ability to be completely interconnected without having to be tied to a specific device — that’s the key to achieving a true omnichannel experience. This has been our approach from day one.
Before passive liveness there was active liveness, but that approach was not secure — and the experience left much to be desired. In order to have a liveness technology work on phone, a kiosk or a security camera, we had to make it ‘passive’ and it had to be able to run on the server or on the edge, which is critical to achieve privacy. It also had to be extremely fast.
Susan Stover: What can we expect from Incode as the year progresses?
Ricardo Amper: We have some of the world’s most talented engineers working on continually improving our facial recognition, document verification, liveness and computation photography capabilities. We’re working closely with our customers around the globe to ensure our product gets better and better with each release. As I mentioned earlier, we’re also partnering with governments to create an ecosystem based on a single identity that works across all company’s channels, and across industries. That’s our primary goal: to offer that single identity that’s ubiquitous. And we’re just getting started.
Susan Stover: It looks like the next show we’ll see you at as Money20/20 Europe?
Ricardo Amper: Yes, we’re excited about that. I think Europe has very interesting challenges that differ from those in America, starting with identity. There aren’t national identity standards, so it’s definitely a space to watch.
Susan Stover: Thank you for joining us today and see you then.