The Next Frontier: Advancements In Biometrics Signals A New Era For Lebanon's Digital Future

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Today, our banking transactions and business exchanges are essentially taking place in the digital sphere, and in line with that, security requirements are quickly evolving. In this context, biometric technology has become the go-to solution for foolproof digital security using highly encrypted biological information to verify identities, rendering forgery almost impossible.

As such, an increasing number of private companies and governmental bodies are adopting and introducing biometric solutions across different sectors and fields. In fact, and since Samsung and Apple introduced the face ID feature to their smart phones, facial recognition has been making headlines globally.

At this year's Mobile World Congress, biometric technology was featured in smartcards, credit cards, mobile phones and smart cars, among other applications. Another example is Nissan which launched its new XMotion at the latest North American Auto Show in Detroit. It uses fingerprint identification to enhance the vehicle's security features. This is great news for modern consumers who will gradually become more familiar with this technology and rely on it to enhance their overall security levels and improve their experiences.

Beyond individual use and benefits, however, biometrics and secure digital solutions are also transforming the public sector. Airports around the world have been striving to create a biometric-enabled experience for passengers, such as Hamad International Airport, which revealed plans to implement a system where the traveler's face would replace the passport. More importantly, biometric technologies are revolutionizing governmental processes by offering to automate otherwise lengthy, expensive and typically cumbersome identity verification protocols, in a highly secure manner.

Along this line, 2015 was a defining year for Lebanese citizens after the government introduced the electronic residency permits and work permits. Shortly after, the traditional Lebanese passport was replaced by the latest generation of e-Passports, allowing Lebanon to join 120 countries that adhere to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) biometric standards. More recently, the Lebanese government launched a comprehensive biometric project targeting the transport sector, which involved the adoption of new biometric driving licenses, vehicle registration cards, secure vehicle plates and Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) tags.

In a seamlessly interconnected world, citizens expect their needs to be met quickly and effortlessly. Accordingly, such digitally-personalized documents became not only a stepping stone, but also a commendable progress towards achieving a new form of e-governance.

Lebanon is slowly but surely entering the digital era which, of course, is not an entirely hassle-free process. However, the Lebanese government is investing sizeable efforts in placing the country at the forefront of digital advancements, noting that more measures are expected in order to further enhance the citizen's experience. By gradually adopting digitalization, Lebanese citizens will be able to experience this transformation in their daily life.

In fact, a 2017 report by the Investment and Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) shows that Lebanon's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry is flourishing rapidly with a market size of US$436.2 million in 2016, and is projected to reach US$543.5 million by 2019. ICT services for governments, businesses and telecom companies are forecasted to continue growing with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3% during 2016-2019.

The future is bright for the younger generations -the creative entrepreneurial minds- who find it easier each year to get the right tools and the adequate support to nurture their ideas. They constitute a fundamental boost for our economy as they are the first to feel the comfort of biometric technology in our everyday lives. As citizens, we all feel more in control, more secure, and less prone to identity theft and fraudulent activities, and Lebanon is set on the road to growth as the private sector exploits technology innovations to help redefine IT, businesses, government services and everyday life.

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