Heroes of Identity Verification (S1:E5)

Humans in Tech

In this episode, we talk with Louis Modell, VP OEM Channel Americas at Identiv, about some of the heroes of identity verification: our logical access devices that are utilized around the globe to make smart card reader technology even smarter. We discuss the latest industry trends in a touchless society, the unexpected use case of our OEM boards in slot machines, and the future of NFC-enabled contactless technology.

Full Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:01):
You’re listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today’s most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what’s new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity and IoT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species and dive into the emerging figital experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture.

As the world leader in smart card reader manufacturing, Identiv’s identity devices and solutions are utilized around the globe to enable security, identification, authentication, transaction, eHealth and eGovernment applications. The company also offers a variety of OEM reader modules to embed into applications for user identification and authentication.

The modules support both contact and contactless technologies and both low, 125 kilohertz, and high, 13.56 megahertz frequency requirements, making them the ideal solution to easily integrate into third party applications. Identiv OEM modules work with virtually all contact smart cards and PC operating systems. Perfect for high security applications, while contactless reader boards support NFC and embedded payment applications, like those that enable kiosks, event ticketing, secure voting, retail loyalty, vending, public transportation, and secure printing.

Leigh Dow, VP of Global Marketing at Identiv will be chatting with Louis Modell, VP of OEM Channel Americas at Identiv about one of the most popular use cases for Identiv’s OEM modules, the global gaming market.

Leigh Dow (02:02):
Because our team of experts to so trusted in the industry, each of our integration partners is confident they’ll receive best in class engineering and development support from concept to production. We collaborate with our OEM partners and pass down over 30 years of knowledge and experience whether the project is standard or custom, and we’re well-known for reducing development time and costs. You could say we make smart card reader technology smarter.

Louis, thank you for taking the time today to talk about industry trends and one particular use case that our audience might not connect with identity technology, slot machines. You’ve been with Identiv since its inception, the days of SCM Microsystems. Can you tell us what the biggest difference is between logical access control today and 30 years ago?

Louis Modell (02:41):
Hi Leigh, thanks for having me. As you mentioned, I’ve been around a long time, and for reference, as of last October, I’ve been with Identiv for 30 years. I certainly have seen the industry change over time, but with regards to logical access and the question that you asked, it’s been more of a slow climb.

User names and passwords have been around a long time, I believe some 50 years+ now, and they’re still in use today, albeit not so secure anymore. It really wasn’t until after 9/11 that we saw some major changes to the way we access sensitive data. Smart cards have been around since the late ’70s, and it wasn’t until the turn of the century when they started to be used by the US government.

They turned to Identiv, and by they I mean the US government, turned to Identiv to provide our smart card reader technology for logical access to the government networks. Our reader quickly became the transparent conduit to access this sensitive data. Today, passwords are no longer sufficient. I mean, hackers are just too good these days.

Last comment on this is that users really have started to use a few different methods for logical access. There’s password managers, there’s single sign-on and MFA. Password managers, which are slightly more secure, but they still use passwords in basically a virtual vault, but this still requires the need for a single password to access that vault. SSO or single sign-on reduces the number of passwords by combining application login screens into one. However, if the credential is compromised, then it allows access to all those secure applications.

Then finally there’s MFA or multifactor authentication where two or more verification factors are required. For example, we’ve all received text messages with a code to log onto to a website that we’re trying to access, right? This is called two-factor authentication.

Another example of MFA is FIDO. FIDO stands for Fast ID Online and is basically an open standard for adding a second factor hardware authenticator, if you will. Adding a FIDO hardware token to any of those previous mentioned logical access methods, so password managers, SSO and MFA adds a very secure layer of authentication. In fact, it actually brings it to NIST’s highest level of assurance, which is level three.

By the way, NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technologies, which is an agency of the US government. Of course Identiv being a security company, we have designed and developed our own FIDO token. Feel free to check it out on Identiv.com.

Leigh, just to sum up. After 30 years of working in the industry, passwords are still in use today for logical access, but the good news is we have much better ways to protect our data and to access our systems.

Leigh Dow (05:39):
2022 feels like it might be the year for identity devices. What’s your take on what’s happening in the industry? What are the big trends you’re predicting?

Louis Modell (05:46):
Yeah, surely, couldn’t agree more. So keeping in mind identity devices being both contact and contactless, the trend for contact will remain mostly flat, but will certainly continue in the government space as logical access as mentioned in the previous question. However, we should see contactless grow at a rapid pace. We’re seeing this trend already as people move towards a touchless society.

Certainly COVID has helped accelerate us towards a contactless world, and we’re starting to see more and more companies approaching Identiv to bring their products up-to-date with contactless technology. I mean, we all have this touchless capability in the palm of our hands every day. By this, I mean our cellphones. We’re going to see a major shift in the use of NFC technology that is inherent to almost all smartphones. We are seeing this show up in our daily lives in the hotels we stay in, the cars we drive, the stadiums we visit, grocery stores, airports, and the list goes on.

Leigh Dow (06:50):
Let’s talk about our OEM modules. What makes these particular partnerships so successful and what is our tech capable of doing?

Louis Modell (06:57):
At Identiv we offer an assortment of reader modules to embed into customer applications. Identiv modules are available in a variety of models that support both contact and contactless technologies. On the contactless side, we support both HF and LF. 13.56 megahertz and 125 kilohertz respectively. On the HF side, we also support the ISO standards of 14443 and 15693. This makes the Identiv readers an ideal solution for easy integration into all operating systems supporting NFC and embedded payment applications.

For example, and I know Dave had mentioned this previously, but worth noting again, in the areas of ticketing, secure voting, cruise lines, loyalty, vending, public transportation, secure printing, and yes, gaming, Identiv has a wide range of OEM modules that can be customized to fit our customers needs and provide solutions that really could integrate physical and logical access control to enable that security and identification. I think right now Identiv works with more than 400 distribution partners and customers in over 50 countries worldwide, and we have a team of experts that really can create custom solutions to fit nearly any use case.

Lastly, here at Identiv, we protect your identity and most sensitive data from cybersecurity threats. I’ve said this on previous speaking engagements, IT leaders face this really daunting task of not only implementing strong authentication solutions to protect identities and data, but they also need to provide a scalable cost-effective user-friendly experience. This is really important, because if it’s not addressed, the solution usually ends up causing more problems for the organization, and this is where Identiv can help.

Leigh Dow (08:52):
We’d love to hear more about our RFID/NFC OEM reader boards. They can be integrated into slot machines for player tracking and loyalty card rewards. Can you tell us more about that use case?

Louis Modell (09:02):
We are currently working with several gaming companies that have requested and implemented a better way to interact with their customer. We all know about that ubiquitous casino plastic player card that we see inserted into slot machines and sometimes even tethered to the player so that they don’t forget their card when they leave or move to another machine. These casino player cards represent a major piece of the casino industry, it’s all about player tracking and loyalty. The casinos want to reward and attract players based on their play.

So, what do the casinos do? They set out to create an easier and more cost-effective way to track loyalty looking to enable players with a variety of secure methods to replace that traditional plastic loyalty card. The casinos look to smartphones, key fobs, room keys. Yes, room keys have technology in them and all types of different wearables. So for instance, a wristband. All of these being contactless and using NFC, which is already used throughout daily life as we know it.

With the use of NFC, which again is inherent to most cellphones these days, the player can now interact with the slot machine with their phone. Walk up to a slot machine and tap in, it’s really that easy. This allows for the most accurate of player tracking. Gone is the day of handing your plastic loyalty card to your friends so that they can get access to your earned benefits. Very easy to hand somebody a plastic card, but most of us will not hand our cellphones out. I certainly know I won’t.

Not only does this provide that accurate tracking that the casinos are looking for, but it also reduces the cost by not having to maintain the system, reduces cost of the cards, inventory of the cards, not having to provide staff to print and distribute the plastic cards, all while reducing waste in the environment.

This methodology also allows players to view their points and loyalty status, view and redeem free play offers, claim their comps or coupons. Because it’s a two-way communication, if you will, uncover events that they may not have been aware of. If the local laws allow, because it is different throughout the world, even transfer funds to a connected slot device. This is all through NFC.

The setup is easy. You use an Identiv NFC gaming reader module, which is embedded into a slot machine or a sports betting machine, which then allows for a 50 Ohm NFC antenna. That antenna can be an off the shelf antenna or Identiv can custom make an antenna to suit the needs of the customer. Then this is placed in the front of the slot machine, and with some backend software and implementation, the casinos are quickly up and running offering this contactless solution. Again, in the gaming industry, marketing and information is the proverbial golden egg.

By way of another example, in another gaming solution that we have, we provide the ability to identify and confirm age. Our reader modules are in a solution that will read the electronic chip and a passport to validate age. These are typically found in unattended lottery terminals, so states and regions are looking to expand their footprint and offer the ability to purchase lottery tickets, scratch-off tickets and other gaming tickets through vending machines.

So with the use of cameras, scanners, and age verification methods, this can now be accomplished, all while reducing the management and staffing of these terminals. So this solution uses Identiv uTrust 4701 NFC module, which is mounted to the underside of the lottery terminal. With some software and hardware combination, they read the electronic chip, they confirm the age, they validate, and then they dispense the ticket.

Leigh Dow (13:05):
It seems like NFC-enabled Apple and Android mobile phones will soon completely replace magnetic stripe customer loyalty cards, fully modernizing today’s gaming experience. How is Identiv meeting the shift in demands?

Louis Modell (13:16):
Yes, Leigh, good question. So, we do see a big move towards getting rid of the traditional plastic mag stripe and even the contactless wallet size cards. By the way, not only in the gaming industry, we’re seeing this across other verticals. It’s a major expense and quite frankly not necessary anymore with the technology that we have available to us today.

At Identiv, we are very well-positioned with our technology, our partners, and most importantly, our development capabilities to move quickly and customize solutions for our customers. Our core set of contactless products allow for customers to immediately start testing in their own environments while having access to our expert engineering team.

Lastly, and I’ll sum it up with this. I can tell you, we are working with a variety of NFC-enabled equipment manufacturers to offer the latest contactless technology and have some very interesting new products and partners to help us along the way to our new touchless society.

Speaker 1 (14:21):
Flexible, reliable, affordable, the end-to-end uTrust TS solution combines non-clonable uTrust TS cards with the uTrust TS access control reader for the simplest most cost-effective path to mitigating emerging security and compliance challenges. The TS solution even lets you maintain compatibility with existing physical access control systems, making identity verification easier than ever. Learn more at Identiv.com.

Our new IP rated contactless smart card reader writer is perfect for clean rooms and industrial facilities. uTrust 3700 IG combines the world-class technology of uTrust 3700 F with a unique industrial grade dust-proof water-resistant enclosure crafted with polished high-grade plastics and ultrasonic welded seams. It stays clean inside and out. Learn more at Identiv.com.

Physical security, identity verification, the IoT, the hyper-connectivity of our lives will only grow more pervasive. As technology becomes more automated and experiences more augmented, it’s up to us to preserve our humanity and use new tools and trends for good. The only question is are we up for the challenge?