Interview with Bruce Hanson, President & CEO, Credence ID

CredenceIDNLAt Mobile ID World one of the ideas we try to highlight is the fact that despite the growing demand for biometrics on smartphones, strong mobile identity technology goes far beyond the handset with a fingerprint sensor.

One of the companies bringing mobile biometrics into the civil both the commercial marketplaces is Credence ID. Mobile ID World president Peter O’Neill (MIDW) recently had a chance to speak with Bruce Hanson, the president and CEO of Credence ID (CrID). They got down to talking about the history of Credence ID, the company’s Trident and Credence One products (which both feature multiple biometrics), and what we can expect from the mobile identity solutions provider later this year.

MIDW: Please tell us about your background in the biometric industry and how that led to the founding of Credence ID?

CrID: Sure. As you may know Credence ID was founded by a number of industry experts that have a long and successful history in biometrics and more specifically in mobile and handheld biometrics. The management team at Credence was intimately involved in the development and commercialization of the PIER and the HIIDE devices and, later on, were leaders in the sale and deployment of large national programs such as the India UID program, the Saudi MBIS program and the Indonesian eKTP program. Credence was founded on the belief that the marketplace was missing a lower cost, lighter weight, mobile biometric device that was easy to use and develop on and, most importantly, as user friendly and approachable as today’s smart devices.  We believe that most of the devices out there today are based on antiquated technology that has not kept up with today’s mobile platforms.

The other reason for starting Credence was a passionate belief that large-scale civil biometric projects are going to become the norm, not the exception. Mobile biometrics are poised to become the enabler for the delivery of so many social services that, today, suffer from fraud and corruption because of a lack of strong individual identity. Simply put, we think there is a convergence of market need and technological advances that put Credence in exactly the right spot.

MIDW: Can you please review your multimodal Credence One product for us?

CrID:   Credence One is a fully integrated handheld device that fits in your shirt pocket.  Like all of our devices, it exploits Android as its operating system. The device allows you to enrol and identify an individual using both fingerprint and facial recognition and has a smartcard reader that is capable of doing both contact and contactless card reading.  You can match onboard the device itself or communicate with a backend database. It has a full 5 mega pixel camera that can also capture latent prints or scan bar codes. The device, as I mentioned, has a full Android feature set including cellular communications, WIFI, Bluetooth, and GPS capabilities. The SDK we provide allows developers to get applications up and running very quickly and includes source code to many common biometric functions. That’s a huge difference compared to yesterday’s devices.

MIDW: What vertical markets are you focusing on with this particular product?

CrID: Well, all of our products are much more focused on the civil and commercial marketplace than what has been available in the past. We think that programs such as voter ID and census programs, pension and welfare distribution, border control and refugee management are the programs that will be very important in the coming years in civil projects. Because of the openness of the platform, the devices can also be used by the military and law enforcement agencies for functions like base protection, criminal watch lists, site exploitation and detainee management systems. These groups are very excited by the lower costs than the current offerings. All that said, the big emerging opportunities include banking and micro finance, health care, insurance, education, SIM card registration, and others. We support a network of highly qualified VARs that have already developed applications for all these scenarios running on Credence devices.

MIDW: Bruce, you have been in the industry for as long as I have, are you excited about the commercial focus on mobility and biometrics that we have seen this past year?

CrID:  Good question. We have been doing this a long time and I’m finally getting excited.  We do think that, with over a billion people now biometrically enrolled in various projects and programs around the world, the sponsors of these programs are turning their attention towards extracting the benefit of all the investment they have put into the enrollment phases of these projects. Countries like India, where they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to enroll their population, are now beginning to turn their focus on getting a return on that investment.

The return is going to come from the enablement that happens when you can quickly and confidently identify an individual and because of that deliver to them some benefit, privilege or right. This removes multiple layers of inefficiency between the provider of the benefit and the target individual.  Even small programs could save millions of dollars or many lives currently lost to inaccurate identity issues and the related risk, inefficiency, fraud and corruption.

MIDW: You just also announced your Trident product , a mobile, tri biometric device.  Can you tell us a little bit more about this launch?

CrID: Sure, the Trident also uses the Android operating system. It runs on the same SDK as the Credence One device, so if one of our VAR partners develops an application for on device it will run on them all. Deployments can mix and match devices in the same project. The main difference between the Credence One and the Trident is that the Trident also offers the benefit of dual simultaneous iris capture. We are very proud of the iris capture because it’s extremely fast and works in all lighting environments. You know Peter, we spent a lot of time in the past trying to get various devices to capture irises in very bright outdoor conditions, say in a desert or war zone. No matter how much we tried various technological approaches to the problem, getting someone to open their eyes wide in bright sunlight is just plain difficult.

So with the Trident device we have eliminated that problem. The shape of the device creates a visor style of iris capture that is extremely fast, extremely accurate and works in all lighting conditions. The Trident also has a full FAP 45 fingerprint sensor for one finger and two fingers slaps as well as full nail-to-nail roll capability. This makes it the only tri-biometric, fully integrated hand-held on Android that truly works in all lighting conditions. That means it is a full enrollment station that fits in a cargo pocket!

It also has similar benefits to the Credence One device in that it has full cellular capability; it has GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc. Both devices can do a match on board the device or they can send images or templates via the 3G or WiFi and return a match or no-match back to the device.   

MIDW: What can we expect to see from Credence in the coming year?

CrID: Well, you can count on seeing a number of new advancements in mobile biometric devices coming out of “Credence Labs”. We are going to continue to develop new products that are based upon Android as the fundamental technology. We believe that customers around the world are expecting their biometric device to be as easy to use and as approachable as their smart phone or their tablet.  We think that the older methodology of putting biometric sensors on Windows or Linux type platforms that are too expensive, more difficult to develop on and don’t have the same friendly interfaces are not the products that customers desire. Much of our development is responding to the emergence of, “know your customer” or KYC model. Large biometric projects around the world are demanding improvement in way they identify and interact with their populations and we think Credence’s Android based biometric devices are going to exceed their expectations.

MIDW: Bruce thank you very much for telling us about your activities this past year. You know you are in the sweet spot of what we think is the growth area …mobility. Also the vertical markets that you spoke about earlier are the ones that we are focusing and following because there is just so much activity there. We look forward to hearing more about your success in the future.

CrID: Thank you Peter I enjoyed speaking with you.