Privacy and convenience feature heavily in Board of Governors biometrics discussion


At APEX/IFSA EXPO, the APEX/IFSA Board of Governors held a discussion about the future of the biometric passenger experience. Moderated by APEX/IFSA CEO Dr Joe Leader, it featured former TSA Chief Innovation Officer Daniel McCoy as an expert guest.

Here are some of the main quotes from the session:

The technology is evolving to make it frictionless

“Right now the limitations that we have are a one-to-one biometric match. 

“You’ve seen the CAT machines and the CAT2 machines. It is reading the image from your licence and then matching it to your face. That will change as we evolve more into a partnership strategy with both airlines and with other Government agencies like CBP, where you can potentially have some gallery array that’s going to take your image and make it so you can go through frictionless each time.”

Former TSA Chief Innovation Officer Daniel McCoy

Privacy and the willingness to opt in remains a concern

“Because we have much smaller footprint, much smaller aeroplanes. We are able to try things that others can’t necessarily, maybe a little sooner. 

“As for the biometric option, it’s a long term goal.  But the desired outcome is to have the ability to walk in and the camera sees you and off you go and where you only stop if we don’t recognise you.  We have a way to go to get there and the biggest obstacle has been the willingness of people to actually give up their picture and actually opt into that.”

JSX CEO, Alex Wilcox

“Privacy by design and powered by consent”

“The Star Alliance biometrics product essentially is about enrolling once with a biometric template and then being able to use it in multiple places multiple times. 

“And so today, we have that product rolled out in Frankfurt, in Hamburg, in Munich, in Vienna, for a customer who has enrolled his or her biometric.  You can simply walk up to the gates or to the biometrics infrastructure and the gates will simply open. That’s because we store the encrypted template in a  biometrics hub.”

“There’s a lot of efficiency behind that, and obviously, on the issue of privacy, it is privacy by design and powered by consent. So our customer can, in fact, manage the parameters of consent to say, well, I’m travelling to just a particular country. I don’t want my biometric standard to be used and only for these particular segments  will I allow them to be used. So I think there are a lot of efficiencies around that.”

Star Alliance CEO, Jeffrey Goh

Resourcing has been an issue, but that is changing

“One of our issues is the challenges we face, in the actual resourcing and the facilities that are available to us.  It’s not always easy to get the right resources or facilities, particularly at the airports. But in recent times, we have seen the desire from our authorities in Fiji to work alongside us to improve the arrival process.”

Fiji Link CEO, Shaenaz Voss

The customer should be in control

“We are trying to be at the forefront of the use of biometrics from an airport perspective. As a TSA innovation airport, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with TSA to pilot and then implement their latest technologies including we have the latest CAT-2 technology

“We believe that biometrics is the key to enable self-service, a customer experience that gives passengers control over their journey. We want to be in control and being able to get through all of security or customs as fast as they can and get on with getting airside. So they can enjoy themselves in the lounge or at many of our retail or food and beverage offerings.”

Los Angeles World Airports CEO, Justin Erbacci

Tech is coming together, now the authorities need to come together

“You’ve got to get everyone lined up from all your authorities to customers and how they’re thinking about confidentiality and other information. What you’re seeing is that increasingly is the tech coming together. Then what we’ve got to do is get all the authorities, working together.”

“I think we can all see. what the end game looks like getting to that. That’s going to require a lot of careful dialogue and basically bringing everyone along with the journey. But it’s exciting.”

Air New Zealand CEO, Greg Foran

The session closed with APEX/IFSA CEO Dr Joe Leader making the following commitment to member airlines:

“I’ll commit to you that as I go before Congress and as we work with our team in Brussels, I will make sure that biometrics is not only a priority. But I will make sure it is a funded priority.”