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Biometric Ticketing – Is it just a buzz or the need of the hour?

by Amarbahadur Singh, on Jun 26, 2019 2:23:56 PM

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Use of biometric devices for identification, authentication, and access control (security) has been prevalent for a long time. The biometric devices use physiological or behavioral uniqueness of a living human being to identify and then automate a particular task for him or her. The most widely used biometric devices are fingerprint scanners, iris scanners, voice recognition engines, and off late facial recognition. Of all these biometric devices, finger-prints are the ones that have been in use for the longest time.  Finger-prints have been used as an acceptance or authorization of a transaction the world over. They have also been used for record keeping and identification of people with criminal history by the law enforcement agencies. During the last few years, increase in reliability of the finger scan readers coupled with the drop in per unit cost has resulted in adoption of the finger scan technology for various use cases. 

In recent years, the finger scanning is being used for making quick ticket payments less the frills of carrying plastic money and remembering the security PIN. Popularly known as biometric ticketing, the finger scan readers have started appearing on fare revenue collection devices in the transportation environment. Rightly so, we are witnessing a significant shift to Biometric Ticketing with the global Biometrics market forecasted to reach $23.54 billion by 2020.

Advantages:

  • The identity trace is infallible. Each biometric can be traced back to the right person with almost 100% accuracy thus eliminating the scope of any fraud related to ticketing or the use of a physical ticket many times over by different users.
  • Ticketing concessions for specific demographic groups, e.g. students, senior citizens, armed forces, etc., can be linked to the eligible The biometric identity is linked to the user’s bank account facilitating easy deposit of cash backs through concessions as against direct concession provided on a contemporary ticketing media.
  • Only the digital representation of the biometric scan extracted (minutiae) with the help of biometric algorithms is stored; the actual scan is not stored or transmitted across the network thus maintaining user privacy. This ensures complete security of the scanned data.
  • People disallowed from entering a particular premises can be kept at bay right at the ticket issuing stage and restricted from entering the said premises; e.g. restricted access zones such as hospital visitor access, airports and stadiums vis-à-vis anti social elements, etc.

Disadvantages:

  • Very high resolution scanners are required for biometric scanning, including finger, face, iris, etc.
  • Biometrics are sometimes not readable; e.g. unreadable finger prints due to damage or age; iris scans, which are obstructed by eye lens, cornea reflections, eyelids, and eyelashes; face obscured by hair, hats, glasses, etc.; face not recognized due to change in ambient light and changing facial expressions

Workarounds towards optimized use at current maturity level:

  • Biometric ticketing with two factor authentication, wherein one is a contemporary option and the second one is a biometric is the way ahead. It is instrumental in building Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) paradigm, a new regulation for making payments currently under implementation in Europe.
  • Biometric ticketing gets strengthened through repeated usage as the algorithms are current and up to date with the smallest biological change happening as a natural process of aging.

In summary:

Biometric authentication has made inroads into the Identification of individuals for various use cases across the spectrum including automated ticketing and fare collection. Currently, Biometric authentication is on the slope of enlightenment of the Gartner’s hype cycle. Biometric ticketing, which is a direct use case of this technology, is making to the mainstream mode related to payments. It is a fool-proof ticketing method with a majority of pros; albeit with a few cons. The technology has naturally found a foothold through two-factor authentication, with one of the factors predominantly being biometric. It is definitely a strong step towards building a fail-safe and robust mode of ticketing for a heterogeneous society and eliminating social evils.

Article is published in the Metro Rail News online magazine on 24th June 2019

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Topics:TruFareAutomated Fare Collection (AFC)