With the annual FindBiometrics Year in Review survey now closed, we’ve been digging into the results and sharing our in-depth analysis on the most comprehensive measure of the pulse of the biometrics industry. Our first few reports had a strong focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which delivered some dramatic changes in sentiment about biometric modalities and applications.
There’s no escaping the impact of the pandemic in the survey results for 2020, but today we’ll be digging into one of the more consistent trends of the last few years: biometric, remote onboarding.
It’s an approach to customer onboarding with a wide range of potential applications and biometric modalities, but it has been adopted most enthusiastically in the financial services sector, and by and large it has taken the form of selfie-based authentication.
A number of prominent vendors now offer solutions that essentially revolve around a two-pronged process: the end user uploads a selfie photo along with images of an official photo ID, and facial recognition software is used to biometrically match the two together. This ingenious approach to identity verification combines the high accuracy of contemporary face algorithms with the familiarity of the selfie photo, resulting in a reliable onboarding system that operates via an intuitive user experience.
Given the prominence of this onboarding solution in today’s market landscape, the latest FindBiometrics Year in Review survey included a question asking respondents how many times they had opened an online account using biometric remote onboarding over the course of 2020. Just over 37 percent said they had done so more than once, while just over 28 percent said they had done so once in the past year.
That means well over half of respondents – 65 percent – had personally experienced selfie-based biometric onboarding in 2020. What’s more, only 12.5 percent said they had never used biometric digital onboarding technology. That’s a testament to the prominence of this approach to customer onboarding.
As for the impact of COVID-19, it appears to have dramatically accelerated this trend. A number of selfie onboarding specialists reported record growth in the wake of the pandemic as new clients rushed to implement secure identity verification in their flooded digital channels. In a quarterly update issued in July, Onfido reported a 40 percent year-over-year jump in global sales; shortly thereafter, FacePhi announced that its revenues were up 143 percent for the first half of the year; and in December, iProov said its total number of end users had gone up 549 percent from November of 2019 to November of 2020. These are just a few examples of the success stories from the selfie onboarding segment in 2020.
The enthusiasm for selfie-based onboarding is borne out in some of the other survey results we’ve looked at, as well. On the question of which biometric modality was most exciting in 2020, the pandemic appears to have shaken up the second- and third-place rankings, but facial recognition held steady at #1, with a hefty 38.5 percent of the vote. And, when asked which application was most exciting, almost a third of respondents once again chose financial services – again, the epicenter of selfie onboarding adoption.
There is one obvious grain of salt to be taken with the results concerning selfie-based biometric onboarding. The respondents to the FindBiometrics Year in Review survey are industry professionals, analysts, and other figures who are more familiar with biometrics than the overage consumer, and it’s possible that they will generally have been more enthusiastic about selfie onboarding when it has been presented as an option.
But industry pros alone are not driving the record revenues that selfie onboarding vendors have been reporting. It’s clear that something big is going on here, and even if the impact of COVID-19 drove anomalous adoption rates in 2020, it’s a fair bet that selfie-based onboarding will remain a key trend going forward.
The 2020 FindBiometrics Year in Review is made possible by our sponsors: Aware, BioConnect, FacePhi, Innovatrics, Jumio, NEC Corporation of America, and Onfido.
January 28, 2021 – by Alex Perala