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South Africa: Biometrics firm aims to curb identity theft

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SA biometrics firm aims to curb identity theft.
SA biometrics firm aims to curb identity theft.

Ideco, a South African biometrics company, has unveiled its identity assurance ecosystem – which according to the company – aims to deliver fraud-proof trusted identity authentication, confirmed with a digital certificate of authenticity in seconds.

Ideco’s new Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) ecosystem was officially launched at the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Africa conference and exhibition in Sandton this week.

With fraud costing South African organisations billions annually, and losses of up to R15 billion per annum in the medical sector alone, identity fraud is possibly the single biggest governance, risk and compliance challenges facing South African organisations today.

Manie van Schalkwyk, Executive Director of the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service, said the SAFPS maintains a database of confirmed identity fraud cases and offers protective registration for individuals whose identification documents or personal data were lost or stolen.

“Our service has saved the big four banks over R1.7 billion in potential fraud. This year alone, our data has contributed to over R936 million in savings across the banks and client companies. The number of new listings rose 56% this year and the number of victims listed rose by 55%. Clearly, fraud is not under control in South Africa.”

Ideco CEO Marius Coetzee says: “Building on Ideco’s ground-breaking biometrics and authentication solutions, including the Identity 4.0TM three-way digital key sharing system, we have developed an ecosystem designed to offer trusted identity assurance in real-time, eliminating the complexity and risk associated with traditional verification processes.”

The new Ideco IDaaS ecosystem essentially delivers identity verification as a service to organisations requiring FICA or RICA compliance, managing large financial transactions, or otherwise requiring identity verification to secure banking services, communications, healthcare, education and social protection.

Ideco IDaaS enables organisations to capture the credentials and biometric data of the consumer at the point of contact. The data, photo and fingerprints are captured in a customisable template defined in the API, and communicated securely to Ideco’s cloud-based backend service for processing. The IDaaS ecosystem validates the data in real time against multiple trusted national databases, including the Home Affairs data, and when full trust is established, the system generates a seal of authenticity which both verifies the customer identity and digitally signs the certificate in compliance with the ECT Act. “The seal of authenticity is unique in South Africa, in that it delivers irrefutable proof of identity that holds up in a court of law,” said Coetzee. This certification meets all regulatory requirements and is powered by the National Centre for Certified Identities. The commercial service is hosted securely in the cloud, with the APIs delivered through the MuleSoft ESB.

The Ideco IDaaS ecosystem, first released toward the end of 2016, has been piloted by a major South African enterprise, in part to assess customer acceptance. “There was a high level of acceptance, once customers understood the value of the process and the benefits to them in owning their identity through the use of the nuID mobile app linked to the ecosystem,” said Coetzee.

The nuID app is hosted securely in the cloud and access to their identity data is enabled by the owner of the data – the consumer being identified – via a mobile phone. Citizens will in future maintain their credentials on the new dedicated and secure portal.

“For the consumer, having access to their secure and irrefutable proof of identity via their mobile phone, will eliminate the risk of identity fraud. This means they no longer have to submit certified copies of their identity documents, which gives them control and visibility over the verification process and builds trust in their transactions with service providers,” said Coetzee. “Although the service is made available to clients as a shared service, we guarantee full protection of information. Personal information is secured using Customer Centric Cryptography, which makes the system fully compliant to the POPI Act. Through the use of the service APIs, the service can, therefore, be embedded in any customer facing transaction or point of sale, to eliminate the risk of Identity-related fraud.”

The Ideco IDaaS ecosystem and the nuID app also paves the way for a future in which trusted digital identification via a mobile device unlocks all services and transactions. “In future the mobile phone will be the bearer of your identity, and we expect to see the private sector driving this revolution in response to the need to clamp down on identity fraud.”

“As the first foolproof next-generation identity verification ecosystem in South Africa, we believe Ideco’s IDaaS delivers unprecedented levels of authentication and full trust in identity for the first time,” Coetzee concludes.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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