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Digital identity in a ‘no-touch’ world [Opinion]

Featured image: Angel investor and former Dimension Data executive Scott Gibson (Supplied)

Much has been said by local and international entities around what the best actions we must follow in order to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 (the coronavirus).

While we all try to figure out how to make adjustments in our daily lives and play our part, we must protect ourselves and others against the spread of the virus.

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Businesses around the world are seeing the upside and downside of this: from panic buying in grocery stores, through to the cancellation of travel plans and holidays.

Anthony Fauci, the US director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday (15 March), that the outbreak will get worse before it gets better.

And Walter Ricciardi, a member of the World Health Organisation’s executive council and Italian health ministry consultant on the coronavirus suggested life could return to “normal” in the European summer.

As we prepare for a post-Covid-19 era we will have to make use of technologies that can facilitate a no-touch world

There are mixed predictions, but generally, predictions are that Covid-19 will peak in late May and we should see a steady decline in infection rates after that. But Covid-19 is going to leave a legacy: the legacy of a “no-touch” world.

Before Covid-19, I never thought about the surfaces and objects that I touch daily. Yes, most of the surfaces and items that I touch I own or can control — my mobile, the door handles and light switches; my bicycle handlebars, car keys, wallet, car door, laptop, iPad, golf clubs and TV remote.

But I also touch a myriad of surfaces such as the biometric entrance device in the office, ATMs, cash, the keypad at the teller in the grocery stores and the parking ticket metre.

Then there’s the security guard’s pen where I fill in my details when I visit a customer, the iPad I use to sign-in when entering a smart building, the iPad the agent hands me when I open a new mobile phone account. You get the point.

As we prepare for a post-Covid-19 era — we need to rethink our processes. The world will have changed and so will customer behaviours.

This is where I believe the digital age will benefit us. We have access to technologies that can facilitate a no-touch, post-Covid-19 world. At the centre of this, is our digital identity and the biometrics linked to our identity. Once our digital identity has been created securely we can access numerous no-touch biometrics.

Palm vein biometrics is widely believed to be the best no-touch biometric authentication method. Near infrared technology allows individuals to authenticate their identities through scanners that capture the images of the patterns of veins of the palms of our hands, from a distance. It’s completely no touch. Also, scanning devices and sensors last much longer, because there’s less wear and tear on the equipment.

The patterns of the veins in your palms are under your skin, so authentication is easier and accurate, even if the palms are aged or wet. It’s practically impossible to forge or impersonate another person’s palm vein patterns.

Facial recognition is another no-touch method of biometric authentication. A facial recognition system uses biometrics to map facial features from a photograph or video. It compares the information with a customer database of known faces to find your profile. The process happens quickly if you have been pre-onboarded with facial as one of the biometrics attached to your digital identity.

Voice biometrics uses a person’s natural voice pattern as a password for authenticating access to services. It is typically offered via contact centres and mobile applications, as well as to validate web transactions. It’s another great way to authenticate yourself in a no-touch world.

Every customer-facing organisation — whether it’s a public service, a retailer, a telco or a bank must start embracing a new strategy around digital identity and how they want to authenticate their customers in a post-Covid world.

The technology is here, and let’s face it: when Covid-19 has passed, we’re going to have to double down, and embrace new methods to attract more customers to remain at the top.

*Scott Gibson is the chief commercial officer of Contactable and an angel investor

This article appeared initially on LinkedIn and is being re-used with the permission of Gibson. See the original article here.

Featured image: Contactable chief commercial officer Scott Gibson (Supplied)

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