by Patrick Hearn

Yesterday, I had a visit to one of the leading global identity & biometrics conferences. Identity & Biometrics is a foundational “horizontal” industry spanning the core of interaction of people and things whether it is smart clothing, financial services, vehicle safety or air travel. In one segmentation, provisioning, it is a 12.9% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) continuing through 2021. Yet the market itself, when looked at from the perspective of inclusion providers have generally misunderstood how to grow this market.  

As a case in point, one of most rapidly adopted identity management tools in the market today is, in my opinion, WhatsApp. In 2013, there were an estimated 200 million users and today it has 1.5 billion monthly users. WhatsApp does what many in the identity management space say they do also: WhatsApp enrolls real people, it encrypts communication between users, it sends documents from videos to photos privately and it allows deletion of data on both sides. If I were Mark Zuckerberg, I would be looking fast on how to use it as a remittance, micropayment and microcredit platform. Just one of many other platforms you could create.  In short, WhatsApp is an identity inclusion service and worth the $19B USD paid by Facebook. 

Identity Management operates as a security industry and for many good reasons. It seeks to keep bad folks outside of buildings and networks, it serves as a tool for national security programs, it protects the payment system that we rely on and it monitors workers. Yet the increasing omnipresence IoT, AI, Machine/Deep Learning, Biometrics and Quantum Computing are tools that the identity industry largely approaches in a mindset of defensiveness vs inclusion. This defensive mindset is what hinders growth and it has created an opportunity gap in this specific industry. It is why product development is incremental and takes years to launch. 

With this in mind, one can offer some suggestions on how firms in the identity management field can move ahead 

  1. Simple and instantaneous onboarding. It is possible.  

  2. Large-scale information service providers are your best friends/partners. Identity is about analytics and they provide it. 

  3. Any new platform built is mobile only. 

  4. AI driven multi-modal biometrics must be a core competency. 

  5. Adoption mindset must triumph over security mindset. 

  6. People and things are in the same eco-system. They are converging. 

In short, to achieve real innovation in this field a new mindset is required. Time to bridge this gap!! 

Patrick Hearn