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What is inclusive biometrics, and how does it help the financial industry

by | Biometric Authentication, Identity Verification

The World Bank defines financial inclusion as the right of people to access a wide range of financial products and services, including transactions, credit, payments, savings and insurance. Nevertheless, this concept has expanded even further nowadays, enclosing all operations and transactions performed through mobile devices and digital platforms.

In this context, having access to a digital bank account has become the first step towards financial inclusion. These financial products allow individuals to receive and send money quickly and securely and to manage savings for economic planning purposes.

Nevertheless, for certain social groups, especially those at risk of social exclusion, vulnerable groups, people with disabilities and people living in the countryside, access to financial services remains a pending issue. This is where digital identity based on inclusive biometrics plays a key role.

But before going into the details of inclusive biometrics, it is essential to understand another key concept: financial inclusion.

What is financial inclusion?

Financial inclusion is a concept that goes beyond simple access to financial services. This implies that all people have the opportunity to participate actively in the economic system.

Financial inclusion also includes creating an enabling environment that promotes confidence in the use of financial services and fair protection of consumer rights. This entails the existence of regulatory policies and adequate financial infrastructure, as well as the right to accessible and quality financial education to enable individuals to make knowledgeable financial decisions.

Technology plays a key role in this process, as it enables the delivery of financial education to close the knowledge gap. Biometrics also plays an important role in this by allowing the development of accessible financial solutions.  

Let’s move to what inclusive biometrics is

Biometrics is a technology that allows a user to be identified through the analysis of physical or behavioural features.

This type of technology has the potential to improve access to financial services by reaching those who have historically been excluded from the traditional financial system, and it also can enhance the quality of those services. Therefore, the concept of inclusive biometrics is nothing more than an application of biometric technology that focuses on ensuring that everyone, regardless of socio-economic status, gender, age or other characteristics, has access to financial services by verifying their identity through biophysical features.

This technology seeks to overcome traditional barriers to accessing financial services, such as lack of identity documents or exclusion of certain demographic groups, by using biometric features such as facial recognition or voice biometrics. Inclusive biometrics can also ensure unique and secure access to bank accounts, which protects individuals’ financial assets and promotes higher participation in the formal economy.

Key elements of inclusive biometrics

Inclusive biometrics is based on a number of key elements that make it exceptionally attractive in terms of reliability, convenience and accessibility.

  • Reliability: biometrics is directly linked to an individual’s identity, which guarantees unparalleled reliability. This association means that identity cannot be lost or forgotten, eliminating concerns related to security and identity theft. Furthermore, biometrics provides a higher level of privacy by protecting the user’s biometric data.
  • Convenience: biometrics offers easy access to financial services, especially for those unfamiliar with traditional financial products. Facial recognition simplifies due diligence processes, reducing the administrative burden and time required to complete paperwork. It also helps population with low literacy levels by eliminating the need to fill out forms or remember passwords. For young digital natives, biometrics is an attractive mechanism, as it suits their tech lifestyle. On the other hand, the inclusion of multiple authentication options, such as voice, benefits users with special needs, ensuring equal access for all.
  • Accessibility: this type of technology can serve as a temporary solution for those with incomplete documentation. For instance, biometrics allows identity to be checked against a centralised biometric database, facilitating the fast identification of refugees or forced migrants who have lost their documentation in the process of displacement.

What is the importance of inclusive biometrics in the financial ecosystem?

Inclusive biometrics has a vital role to play in the financial ecosystem, as it breaks down barriers that have historically excluded certain groups of people from fully accessing financial services. When a person has access to the economic system, a number of opportunities open up that can positively change their lives and those of their community.

First, access to the financial system enables individuals to better manage their risk and act in the face of possible unforeseen events, thus contributing to individual and household economic stability.

Access to financial services also facilitates access to other services and the possibility of investing in education, health, and entrepreneurship. This has a positive impact on society, as it contributes to social inclusion, improves mental health, and reduces economic inequality.

Gender gaps are a crucial aspect that inclusive biometrics can address. According to Women’s World Banking, a high percentage of women have inactive bank accounts compared to men. Biometrics can serve as a bridge to close this gap by providing secure and accessible identification solutions for women.

Financial education is another component of the puzzle. Inclusive biometrics can be integrated into educational programmes to promote financial alphabetisation and ensure that individuals understand how to use available financial services effectively.

Furthermore, financial institutions and the education system must work together to ensure that financial services are transparent and ethical. Legislation that protects consumers, especially the most vulnerable, is essential to ensure that financial services are fair.

Inclusion areas


In response to the increasing closure of bank branches in the countryside, many financial institutions have recognised the need to implement special measures to ensure that the most vulnerable customers have access to appropriate financial services. One solution they are considering is using biometrics as a tool to improve accessibility.

As mentioned, biometrics provides a secure form of authentication that does not rely on physical presence in a bank branch. With facial technology, customers can access their accounts and perform transactions from anywhere with an internet connection. This is especially useful for those living in rural areas, where the distance to a bank branch can be significant.

Furthermore, some local initiatives are emerging to address the lack of access to cash in areas such as Empty Spain (La España Vaciada). For example, the possibility to order cash through the bank’s app and pick it up at a post office or even receive it at home, using the postal service as an intermediary.

Another growing concept is “cash in shop“, which involves working with local shops to offer cash withdrawals. This includes the installation of ATMs in shops and businesses in villages. Another option that is expected to gain popularity is the installation of ATMs in towns of less than 10,000 inhabitants. These ATMs can be placed in strategic locations such as the town square to ensure that locals can have cash in cash when they need it. Combining this initiative with the use of biometrics for cash withdrawals would eliminate the need to rely on physical cards or remember PIN codes, which would be beneficial for older people with memory-related difficulties.

Old people

Biometrics, specifically voice biometrics, offers a solution to help old adults overcome barriers to accessing digital services, such as banking and insurance transactions.

Voice biometrics enables quick and secure identification of users, eliminating the need to remember complicated passwords or answer security questions. By simply speaking, older adults can effortlessly prove their identity.

Furthermore, implementing an omnichannel strategy gives them the ability to interact with financial services through multiple channels, such as calls or mobile applications. This diversity of options gives them the flexibility to select the communication method that best suits their individual preferences and skills.

At the same time, the risks of fraud and scams, such as phishing through fraudulent SMSs posing as banks, are significantly reduced.

Migrants with local language comprehension difficulties

Migrants coming to new countries may face language obstacles that make it difficult to understand local financial procedures and communicate with financial providers. In this context, biometrics eliminates the need to deal with written instructions in an unfamiliar language and simplifies authentication.

People with hearing or visual impairments

People with these types of issues often have difficulty accessing financial services that rely on verbal or written communication. Biometrics can offer an inclusive solution by providing authentication methods based on physical features such as face or voice. These methods are independent of speech or vision, ensuring that these groups can have equal access.

People with cognitive disabilities

Inclusive biometrics also plays a crucial role in improving access to financial services for individuals with cognitive impairments. These users may have difficulty understanding and remembering information needed to access financial services. Biometrics offers a form of authentication that is independent of memory or cognitive ability.


1:N biometric identification has proven to be a priceless tool in refugee camps and forced displacement situations, where the need to identify large populations quickly and accurately is key. This technology allows displaced people to be uniquely registered and associated with personal and family data, enabling the distribution of food and other basic goods.

The vulnerability of refugees is evident, as they have lost their homes, livelihoods and personal security. Many of them arrive in new communities with few resources and face significant barriers to accessing traditional financial services due to a lack of documentation or banking records.

Nevertheless, inclusive biometrics can help these individuals rebuild their lives in more stable environments. Biometric technologies enable them to access financial assistance programmes, facilitating their integration into new communities.

Seasonal farmworkers

Other types of migrants fill temporary work positions, especially in sectors such as agriculture, where they play a key role in the development of primary sector activities.

These employees often travel from their home countries only for the duration of the season, which puts them in a particular situation in terms of access to financial services while abroad.

Inclusive biometrics can be particularly beneficial for such workers by providing them with an efficient way to access essential financial services during their stay. The use of biometrics can eliminate the need to rely on local identity documents that can be difficult for non-residents to obtain. In this case, biometrics enables these workers to open bank accounts, pay by mobile phone and send remittances to family members back home.

How does biometrics remove barriers to access?

Biometrics drives digital inclusion and has become an inclusive tool that opens up opportunities for people who have historically faced difficulties in accessing banking.

The integration of cameras and microphones in mobile devices democratises their use, allowing a broad spectrum of the population to use biometrics as a verification or authentication mechanism. This is particularly important for people living in remote areas or with limited resources. This accessibility promotes financial inclusion, enabling secure transactions from anywhere and from any smart device.

Furthermore, the removal of barriers translates into economic and social development for communities. Biometrics, when combined with innovations such as mobile banking and other ways of reaching citizens, further expands financial access. With favourable regulations, providers can implement inclusive biometrics as a secure method of verification, extending their reach through agents and other service providers such as fintech or local businesses.

Diversification of the banking model and interoperability with other services meet the basic needs of underserved populations, supporting the financial ecosystem and promoting genuine inclusion.

Reach us if you are looking for an identity verification solution that makes use of inclusive biometrics to provide equal access to financial services and promote the inclusion of all social groups.


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