Interview With Rob Haslam - Chief Strategy Officer at TECH5

Updated on: June 16, 2024
Shauli Zacks Shauli Zacks
Updated on: June 16, 2024

SafetyDetectives recently conducted an insightful interview with Rob Haslam, the Chief Strategy Officer at TECH5. Rob shared his extensive experience in the biometric and digital identity market, highlighting TECH5’s innovative contributions to global biometric standards. With a focus on advancing technologies such as contactless fingerprint capture and secure digital credentials, TECH5 is at the forefront of ensuring secure and convenient identity verification. Rob also discussed the crucial role of AI in enhancing biometric technologies and provided a glimpse into the future milestones TECH5 aims to achieve.

Can you introduce yourself and talk about your role at TECH5?

My name is Rob Haslam, and I am the Chief Strategy Officer at TECH5. I am responsible for defining and executing our global strategy in the fast-evolving biometric and digital identity market. My role involves collaborating closely with other executives and department heads to align strategies company-wide, ensuring we are on the right path for growth. Additionally, I manage our investor relationships, both in terms of current investors and with a view to future investment rounds

What are some of the flagship features of TECH5 and how it contributes to the development of global biometric standards?

In recent years, the biometric landscape has been changing rapidly. This has brought new technologies as well as new use cases. Biometrics has become a key to securing transactions and accessing online services, as well as digital and physical spaces.

TECH5 is at the forefront of developing new technologies to support these use cases, constantly investing in innovation and the design of software platforms for governments and enterprises. A great example of such innovation is our contactless fingerprint capture technology – T5-AirSnap Finger. It allows for detection, capture, quality assessment, and enhancement of fingerprint images within seconds using a smartphone’s built-in camera. It also runs a liveness check to ensure that the data is taken from a real person. This technology is widely used during digital onboarding and remote identity verification by banks, telcos, and governments, allowing for biometric data acquisition without using expensive purpose-built fingerprint scanners. It works in both remote and assisted modes. Contactless fingerprint capture is quickly becoming a new standard and bringing such benefits as convenience and reduced total cost of ownership.

Another important direction in which TECH5 innovates is secure credentials. Digital identity is becoming ever more important, as technology evolves to serve post-COVID use cases, pushing the world towards a new digital-first era. Governments in different countries are actively developing standards for digital identity to ensure data protection and interoperability, and TECH5 is very active here.

At TECH5, we started working on digital ID technologies before the pandemic, and our first biometric-powered platform allowing for the issuance and management of secure credentials – T5-IDencode – was launched in 2020. Back then, we introduced a digital data container – T5-Cryptograph – that can store biometrics and demographic data in an encrypted format, allowing the linking of an identity holder to a physical or digital credential biometrically. Today, this technology is used in various countries and meets all key international requirements.

Later, witnessing the transition to digital IDs but knowing that physical credentials will stay with us alongside digital ones for at least another decade, we also launched T5-FaceLink – a biometric security feature for the protection of facial images on printed identity documents from alteration or substitution. We believe that it is key to create biometric technologies protecting both physical and digital credentials to embrace inclusion.

Today, we are working on several more biometric platforms and offerings that we hope will be widely used and set new standards in the biometric technology world. But in this interview, I would like to talk about one key biometric function – multi-modal matching.

The use of multi-modal biometric matching platforms fosters inclusion and reduces fraud in national-scale projects, becoming one of the requirements to ensure efficient identification, de-duplication, and verification of citizens. Multi-modal ABIS (Automated Biometric Identification System) platforms can work with national biometric databases with face, fingerprint, or iris data, and identify or verify a person using several biometric modalities at the same time. TECH5 has offered tri-modal matching systems since its inception and has proven their efficiency in some of the world’s largest national ID projects. Our matching technology is at the heart of the world’s second-largest such program, in Indonesia, for example, where more than 220 million people’s data (1 face, ten fingers and two iris images per citizen) supports a variety of government and commercial use cases. TECH5 does not hold this data; rather, our technology enables its rapid and accurate matching as required. This sovereign data is always in the custody of the Indonesian government.

How does regular benchmarking contribute to the advancement and reliability of your biometric technologies?

Technologies should not be created in a vacuum. It is important to regularly participate in various independent tests to compare your technologies with those of other market-leading companies. The algorithms used across all three biometric modalities of TECH5 are consistently ranked top-tier by authorities such as NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology, under the US Department of Commerce). We also participate in various tests with labs like iBeta to ensure the quality of our technologies. This helps us to ensure that we provide our partners and customers with best-in-class technologies.

It is also important to benchmark new technologies, such as fingerprint liveness detection. With only a few available on the market, it is crucial to test and compare these technologies to improve them. TECH5’s latest neural network-based fingerprint liveness detection technology for mobile devices won first and second positions in the Liveness Detection (LivDet) 2023 Non-contact Fingerprint international competition, successfully detecting all spoofing attacks. This achievement, among others, demonstrates our technological excellence.

What role does biometrics play in the future of mobile payments and banking?

Today, biometrics already play a crucial role in preventing fraud and protecting customers’ data in many use cases, including banking and fintech. Facial biometric capture and matching technologies have been used for quite some time already for digital onboarding and verification to provide access to financial services such as digital payments, loans, signing of bank documents, and more. Now, with the arrival of new technology for fingerprint capture and verification using mobile devices, this biometric modality is also available for remote onboarding and matching, ensuring ease, high speed, and accuracy of data capture and verification. Adding fingerprints to existing workflows can also offer differentiated authentication, such as for higher-value transactions.

With our digital ID technologies powered by biometrics, P2P transactions and other financial operations become secure and easy: the digital IDs of payers and payees are linked to them biometrically, ensuring the legitimacy of transactions and thus enhancing trust.

Talking about the future, together with our partners, we are working on the joint development of next-generation digital identity solutions powered by SSI-based Digital Identity Wallets and trust services to build a digital public infrastructure that serves any use case that requires identity proving, access control, authentication and authorization, and payments. We are starting with a specific focus on government payment digitization. This innovation will help to ensure secure, fast, and easy transactions.

We have been getting a lot of attention relating to our strategic partnership with Visa. Visa has big ambitions in the payment space in emerging markets, and linking biometrically backed digital identities to payment transactions will create powerful new platforms in under-served parts of the world where billions of people are yet to reap the benefits of digitization.

How does artificial intelligence (AI) complement biometric technologies?

TECH5 has been an AI-based company since its inception in 2018. All our major offerings were developed using AI and we continue to expend significant resources in researching AI-based enhancements and innovations. Artificial Intelligence (AI) significantly improves the speed and accuracy of biometric algorithms. AI-based algorithms can process and analyze vast amounts of biometric data more rapidly and precisely than traditional methods. Moreover, AI’s ability to learn and adapt allows biometric systems to become more robust over time, accommodating changes in physical appearance and environmental conditions.

Initially applied to facial capture and matching, AI is now used for fingerprint, iris, voice, and other modalities. Among the benefits of AI-based algorithms I would highlight reduced template size, which leads to a lower cost of ownership, and the ability to quickly and accurately capture different types of biometric data, such as facial and fingerprint images, using a mobile phone or tablet’s camera.

Another and one of the most important enhancements to biometric technologies made possible by AI is liveness detection. This ensures that a real person provides their biometric data, preventing spoofing attacks. This technology also exists for different biometric modalities, such as face, fingerprints, voice and others.

Looking ahead, what is the next big milestone in biometrics you are aiming for?

One of the milestones we are aiming for in improving our biometric algorithms is achieving a zero-error rate for all our biometric modalities. Our technologies are among the fastest and most accurate in the world, but reaching a point where a biometric system achieves perfect accuracy – meaning no false positives or false negatives – represents a significant next step for all technology companies, including TECH5. This is critically important because biometric systems are used in high-security contexts such as border control, financial transactions, and access to sensitive information or facilities. Achieving a zero-error rate would ensure the highest level of security and trust, preventing unauthorized access and avoiding the inconvenience and potential harm of legitimate users being falsely rejected. Furthermore, it enhances user confidence and system reliability, which are crucial for the widespread adoption and integration of biometric technologies in various applications, thereby fostering inclusion.

We are also planning to include more biometric modalities in our matching platforms. This will allow us to have a highly flexible system capable of working with any database.

Finally, it is not only the excellence of biometric technologies that is important but also their application. We see the future of biometrics in digital identity and believe that our key role is in enabling digital infrastructure powered by biometrics. This infrastructure will provide people with access to services and enable transactions both within a country and around the world.

About the Author
Shauli Zacks
Updated on: June 16, 2024

About the Author

Shauli Zacks is a tech enthusiast who has reviewed and compared hundreds of programs in multiple niches, including cybersecurity, office and productivity tools, and parental control apps. He enjoys researching and understanding what features are important to the people using these tools.

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