Losing your identity: a real issue that goes beyond psychology

Last updated: 15 October 2019

Not too long ago I watched “Unknown”, a movie starred by Liam Neeson in which he falls into a coma and wakes up to realize he has lost what he believes is his identity. He spends a good part of the movie trying to figure out what has happened only to find out that all is not as he believed.

Well, I don´t know how hard it is to lose your identity (or forget who you are), but I am sure that stealing someone else´s identity or creating a fake one is not a difficult task in Mexico, or any other country in Latin America for that matter.

One of my best friends was telling me her mother almost lost all her retirement savings when her identity was stolen and her bank account emptied. Can you imagine losing everything you have worked for your entire life?

This not only presents a very complex social problem, but it is also a huge business issue as it can generate great financial loses for both individuals and financial institutions.

According to an article published in “El Financiero” with numbers from CONDUSEF (National Commission for the Protection and Defense of the user of Financial Services), last year there were 78,788 possible cases of fraud for identity theft reported in Mexico, claiming an estimated amount of 991 million MXN (€47,595,335).

While very problematic, we should recognize this isn’t an issue that is limited to Latin America. Fraud prevention organization Cifas stated that identity fraud reached record levels in 2016 with almost 173,000 cases, with 85% of fraud carried out online. Another report from last year calculated that the estimate annual cost of fraud in the UK is now £193bn. To fight these frightening statistics, our methods of identification need to change.

Banks and financial institutions need to be the first ones to adjust their identification procedures in order to counteract this threat. Governments around the world are incorporating the new GDPR legislation into law from May 2018.

As a citizen, I believe governments should take action to combat fraud wherever possible. Here in Mexico, the government is currently working on a regulation to force financial services providers to make sure that their customers are who they really claim to be. And, what could be more unique to an individual that his or her biometric characteristics?

Opening a door (or a bank account) with your iris or finger print might not be as futuristic as we once thought it was. Nowadays we unlock many of our devices only with a touch of a finger. What is more, we no longer need to enter our details to access our bank account – we access the information that we need with our fingers. Biometric authentication not only offers banks a peace of mind in terms of security but it gives them the opportunity to improve customer experience. It can reduce the time it takes to open a bank account or request any other financial service for that matter. And, let´s be honest, no one likes remembering long and complicated passwords!

As a user, all I care about is that my money is safe and that the services provided by my bank are convenient (and by convenient, I mean I don´t need to spend hours speaking to someone on the phone or waiting in a huge line to speak to a human being). At Gemalto, our experts are also users, and they are committed to developing strong but friendly solutions, even in the most complex scenarios. Our biometric authentication solutions use technology and innovation to handle the complexity of this process (data base cross checks, document validation, etc.) and make it transparent for every party involved: the user, the bank and the government.

As we venture further into the digital world, biometric authentication promises appropriate security while also keeping the user experience smooth. Biometrics still have a long way to go (they are still not foolproof) and will keep evolving as fraud does. Governments are moving this way and so are other companies. The convergence among different players is happening and our technology is emerging to support it. Sounds like we are taking a problem and transforming it into an opportunity, don’t you think?

Would the use of biometrics by financial institutions increase your trust in them? Please let us know in the comments, and by the way my friend’s mother did get her money back fortunately!


One thought on “Losing your identity: a real issue that goes beyond psychology

  1. Biometric systems has to go long away to have a perfect and foolproof data or information of governments, companies,individuals against fraud or leakages. It is all about the individual how he uses the technology used by. Him for the systems.

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