Will Biometrics and Blockchain Be the Future of Identity Management?

Biometrics has proven to be a one of the most important technologies nowadays for identity management. However, with its increasing adoption in large-scale projects like national security and banking, there’s a growing concern over the vulnerability of the system that the information can be leaked or used by a third party without the awareness of the owners.

iris recognition blockchain identity

In the wave of industrial revolution 4.0, blockchain is considered as a key technology for digital transformation and building a future information technology platform. According to experts, blockchain technology is mainly designed to maintain the distributed decentralized databases, which consists of a growing list of data records that preserve the integrity, singularity and validity of the stored information, without involving any third party for verification purposes. The information in the blockchain cannot be hacked or changed and only be added with the consent of all the nodes in the system.

By combining biometrics and blockchain, identity information will be stored in a distributed ledger system which means that the authorities don’t have access to your personal information anymore and you now have the control over your information to choose which information and which authorities to share with. For example when you’re at the airport; you can share the minimum amount of your personal information such as name, nationality and iris scan that are required for validation process instead of the entire of information or any other biometric data. In addition, the combination eliminates the need of having a biometric embedded physical proof of identity such as passport or ID card which is prone to fraud and information exposed because all you need is to show up yourself. Hence, it helps secure the citizen’s identity and streamline the identity management process at the same time.

For the same reasons, Canada government announced that it will pioneer the leveraging of biometrics, cryptography and distributed ledger technology as part of Known Traveler Digital Identity. The system is aimed to boost cross-border security, reduce the threat of cyber-terrorism while streamline international travel. According to GlobalNews, the system would allow travelers to use an app to store and share information with authorities in advance, allowing more time for pre-screening.

In terms of banking, deploying biometrics along with blockchain technology can be a huge disruptor in the financial industry. Although biometric identification makes it almost impossible for fraudsters to impersonate, the current data storage solutions leave the transaction logs vulnerable to exploit. Thanks to the immutable and transparent nature of distributed ledger, blockchain-based biometric authentication makes it ideal for maintaining the integrity of transactions and activity logs which is the number one priority in financial sector. Transaction records that contain information like: a transaction ID, user ID, date, time, amount, beneficiary, accounts, etc. cannot be hacked or changed and can be tracked down easily.

Blockchain-based biometric identity solution is not only be applied in border control but also being used in different projects such as refugee aid distribution, Aadhaar identification system or to be used to enable digital identity for 1.1 billion people lacking identity document in the world by 2030, according to ID2020 Summit. Many big players are also investigating at the technologies like America’s Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft and Accenture.

The merging of these two technologies is expected to bring widespread changes in identity management in digital era in the near future thanks to the security and integrity that they bring. Blockchain technology in particular is expected to witness a significant growth in the next 5 years. In accordance to Research and Markets report, the global blockchain market is projected to reach US$4.401 billion by 2022, an increase of 71.46 % from US$0.297 billion in 2017.