By Christian Fredrikson, CEO, Fingerprints
For thousands of years, humanity has used fingers to express itself. Crossing one’s index and middle fingers in the West means good luck, India’s intricate hand mudras indicate everything from no fear to reverence, and a thumb down signalled bad news for Rome’s gladiators.
Today, however, we’re doing even more with our fingers. From accessing mobile devices to authorizing payments, the use of fingers – in particular, our fingerprints – has grown rapidly.
So rapidly in fact that in May 2019, we announced that we had shipped 1 billion fingerprint sensors worldwide. But how did we get here, and where do we go next?
Authentication is dead, long live authentication
It’s a funny coincidence ‘PIN’ and ‘pain’ are only one letter apart. For years, PIN authentication has been to the tune of “oh what’s my number,” often followed by “wait – I’m sure this is right,” and occasionally, “forget it!” This was bad for consumers, OEMs and merchants alike.
Then came an alternative. Something you can’t forget and that’s with you wherever you go.
While many think of fingerprint authentication as a recent phenomenon, they are somewhat mistaken. Since the creation of the first fingerprint sensor prototype for mobile in 1998, innovation has continued well into the 21st century. Sensors got smaller, smarter, and authentication was integrated into the device’s secure element to pave the way for mobile payments. In 2014, Fingerprints helped launch the world’s first Android smartphone with a touch fingerprint sensor, before releasing the first home button touch sensor for Android in the same year.
Now commonplace in mobile devices, the technology’s ongoing advancement and adoption has simplified the everyday lives of consumers, all over the world. We’ve even done the maths. Unlocking smartphones with fingerprint sensors rather than a PIN saves us an average of 41 minutes a week: that’s nearly 3 hours a month, 36 hours a year, and a staggering two weeks in a decade!
A tactile today
The success of biometrics in the mobile world has paved the way for exciting, next-generation applications across new verticals – from access control to payments, the applications are endless.
Answering the age-old security dilemma of balancing security with convenience, it’s unsurprising we’ve seen the payments world take to biometrics. Earlier this year, we launched the first Biometric Software Platform tailored for payments and received the world’s first volume order of fingerprint sensors for contactless payment cards from Gemalto. With several contactless biometric payment card trials going on around the globe, we predict this form factor to be the first of many to reach consumers and transform their financial lives.
Innovation in other verticals hasn’t meant the end for further R&D in mobile biometrics, though. In a bid for greater design freedom and consumer convenience, there’s increasing demand for in-display fingerprint sensors. Allowing consumers to simply ‘touch’ and authenticate directly on the display of the phone, we expect this to be one mobile innovation that really takes off.
Biometrics technologies beyond fingerprint sensors are also set to grow in adoption. In fact, we’re increasingly likely to see solutions combining multiple biometrics technologies as a means to ‘layer’ security, continue to improve UX, and perhaps finally say goodbye to PINs and passwords!
Take, for example, our ‘touchless’ smartphone solution. Combining advanced iris and face recognition software with simple, inexpensive and easy to integrate camera reference hardware has created the world’s most secure, compelling touchless recognition solution.
The future, you can almost touch it
Fingerprints may have reached the mighty 1 billion milestone, but this is just the beginning.
With the growing trend of previously non-connected devices entering the IoT, manufacturers are looking for new trusted methods of user authentication. Biometrics will play a central role in providing that trust.
A secure and seamless universe is on the horizon. From suitcases and door locks, to cars and homes – biometrics technology is enabling an exciting future, where you are the key to everything.
Facebook ‘refriends’ Australia after changes to media laws
By Byron Kaye and Colin Packham
CANBERRA (Reuters) – Facebook will restore Australian news pages, ending an unprecedented week-long blackout after wringing concessions from the government over a proposed law that will require tech giants to pay traditional media companies for their content.
Both sides claimed victory in the clash, which has drawn global attention as countries including Canada and Britain consider similar steps to rein in the dominant tech platforms and preserve media diversity.
While some analysts said Facebook had defended its lucrative model of collecting ad money for clicks on news it shows, others said the compromise – which includes a deal on how to resolve disputes – could pay off for the media industry, or at least for publishers with reach and political clout.
“Facebook has scored a big win,” said independent British technology analyst Richard Windsor, adding the concessions it made “virtually guarantee that it will be business as usual from here on.”
Australia and the social media group had been locked in a standoff after the government introduced legislation that challenged Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google’s dominance in the news content market.
Facebook blocked Australian users on Feb. 17 from sharing and viewing news content on its popular social media platform, drawing criticism from publishers and the government.
But after talks between Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a concession deal was struck, with Australian news expected to return to the social media site in coming days.
“Facebook has refriended Australia, and Australian news will be restored to the Facebook platform,” Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra.
Frydenberg said Australia had been a “proxy battle for the world” as other jurisdictions engage with tech companies over a range of issues around news and content.
Australia will offer four amendments, which include a change to the proposed mandatory arbitration mechanism used when the tech giants cannot reach a deal with publishers over fair payment for displaying news content.
Facebook said it was satisfied with the revisions, which will need to be implemented in legislation currently before the parliament.
“Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation,” Facebook Vice President of Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown said in a statement online.
The company would continue to invest in news globally but also “resist efforts by media conglomerates to advance regulatory frameworks that do not take account of the true value exchange between publishers and platforms like Facebook.”
Analysts said while the concessions marked some progress for tech platforms, the government and the media, there remained many uncertainties about how the law would work.
“Retaining unilateral control over which publishers they do cash deals with as well as control over if and how news appears on Facebook surely looks more attractive to Menlo Park than the alternative,” said Rasmus Nielsen, head of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, referring to Facebook headquarters.
Any deals that Facebook strikes are likely to benefit the bottom line of News Corp and a few other big Australian publishers, added Nielsen, but whether smaller outlets win such deals remains to be seen.
Tama Leaver, professor of internet studies at Australia’s Curtin University, said Facebook’s negotiating tactics had dented its reputation, although it was too early to say how the proposed law would work.
“It’s like a gun that sits in the Treasurer’s desk that hasn’t been used or tested,” said Leaver.
The amendments include an additional two-month mediation period before the government-appointed arbitrator intervenes, giving the parties more time to reach a private deal.
It also inserts a rule that an internet company’s existing media deals be taken into account before the rules take effect, a measure that Frydenberg said would encourage internet companies to strike deals with smaller outlets.
The so-called Media Bargaining Code has been designed by the government and competition regulator to address a power imbalance between the social media giants and publishers when negotiating payment for news content used on the tech firms’ sites.
Media companies have argued that they should be compensated for the links that drive audiences, and advertising dollars, to the internet companies’ platforms.
A spokesman for Australian publisher and broadcaster Nine Entertainment Co Ltd welcomed the government’s compromise, which it said moved “Facebook back into the negotiations with Australian media organisations.”
Major television broadcaster and newspaper publisher Seven West Media Ltd said it had signed a letter of intent to strike a content supply deal with Facebook within 60 days.
A representative of News Corp, which has a major presence in Australia’s news industry and last week announced a global licensing deal with Google, was not immediately available for comment.
Frydenberg said Google had welcomed the changes. A Google spokesman declined to comment.
Google also previously threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia but later struck a series of deals with publishers.
The government will introduce the amendments to Australia’s parliament on Tuesday, Frydenberg said. The country’s two houses of parliament will need to approve the amended proposal before it becomes law.
(Reporting by Colin Packham and Byron Kaye; additional reporting by Renju Jose, Kate Holton and Douglas Busvine; Writing by Jonathan Barrett; Editing by Sam Holmes and Mark Potter)
Oil rises on positive forecasts, slow U.S. output restart
By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Tuesday, underpinned by the likely easing of COVID-19 lockdowns around the world, positive economic forecasts and lower output as U.S. supplies were slow to return after a deep freeze in Texas shut down crude production.
Brent crude was up 36 cents, or 0.5%, at $65.60 a barrel by 1212 GMT, and U.S. crude rose 39 cents, or 0.6%, to $62.09 a barrel.
Both contracts rose more than $1 earlier in the session.
“Vaccine news is helping oil, as the likely removal of mobility restrictions over the coming months on the back of vaccine rollouts should further boost the oil demand and price recovery,” said UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo.
Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said optimistic oil price forecasts issued by leading U.S. brokers had also contributed to the latest upswing in prices.
Goldman Sachs expects Brent prices to reach $70 per barrel in the second quarter from the $60 it predicted previously, and $75 in the third quarter from $65 forecast earlier.
Morgan Stanley expects Brent crude to climb to $70 in the third quarter.
“New COVID-19 cases are falling fast globally, mobility statistics are bottoming out and are starting to improve, and in non-OECD countries, refineries are already running as hard as before COVID-19,” Morgan Stanley said in a note.
Bank of America said Brent prices could temporarily spike to $70 per barrel in the second quarter.
Disruptions in Texas caused by last week’s winter storm also supported oil prices. Some U.S. shale producers forecast lower oil output in the first quarter.
Stockpiles of U.S. crude oil and refined products likely declined last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.
A weaker dollar also provided some support to oil as crude prices tend to move inversely to the U.S. currency.
(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; editing by David Evans and John Stonestreet)
UK-Japan trade deal settled nerves for Japanese firms, Honda executive says
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s trade deal with Japan settled the nerves of a lot of Japanese businesses in the United Kingdom and gives them confidence about their future prospects there, a senior Honda executive said on Tuesday.
Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has since the 1980s made the United Kingdom its favoured European destination for investment, with the likes of Nissan, Toyota and Honda using the country as a launchpad into Europe.
But Britain’s shock 2016 decision to leave the European Union had prompted Japan to express unusually strong public concerns. Their companies and investors warned that a disorderly exit from the EU would force them to rethink their four-decade bet on Britain.
“We welcome very much the Japanese trade agreement which as a Japanese businesses was very welcomed,” Ian Howells, senior vice president at Honda Motor Europe, told a parliamentary committee.
“On the point around confidence, that certainly amongst my peers in Japanese companies was very much welcomed, and probably settled a lot of nerves in terms of their trading prospects in the UK going forward.”
Britain and Japan formally signed a trade agreement in October, marking Britain’s first big post-Brexit deal on trade. It has also made a formal request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Japan is also a member.
(Reporting by Kate Holton)
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