Madeira to pilot fingerprint biometric cards provided by Tactilis

The island is piloting a single-touch biometric identity system that will enable citizens to carry out a number of transactions with the government

Image by Monika Neumann from Pixabay

The Government of Madeira is moving forward with the pilot of the “Smart Island” digital identity program in collaboration with Tactilis. Madeira is an autonomous group of Portuguese islands off the coast of North Africa with a population of approximately 300,000 people. Madeira biometric project is piloting a single-touch biometric identity system that will enable citizens to carry out a number of transactions with the government.


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A consortium of Madeira’s leading systems integrators has placed an initial order for 3,400 cards and 600 wireless card readers to carry out the pilot. The biometric system-on-card (BSoC) from Tactilis has NFC and wireless capabilities that make it compatible with existing terminals, and leverages a fingerprint sensor from NEXT Biometrics for biometric authentication. The owner’s fingerprint information is stored on the card itself, and is never sent to a centralized (and vulnerable) database.

The new cards will be deployed for a wide variety of applications, including healthcare, government services, payments, and transportation. The pilot program is expected to begin early next year and continue throughout 2020.

This technology will enable our government and related agencies to deliver a wider range of services securely whilst managing their operations more efficiently,” said Madeira President Miguel Albuquerque. “Madeira is well positioned to pioneer this technology to the rest of the world.”

Tactilis first announced that it would be integrating NEXT fingerprint sensors into its biometric system-on-card product back in 2017, and finally started shipping the cards nearly a year later. The two companies have since announced that their technology would be featured in three pilots with an undisclosed organization in Asia. Next shipped another 30,000 fingerprint sensors to Tactilis earlier this year. Global Invacom also made a bid to acquire Tactilis, although the two companies ultimately decided to walk away from the proposed $200 million arrangement.

The Tactilis BSoC uses fingerprint recognition to authenticate transactions. Tactilis indicated that it will work with partners in Madeira and Portugal to manufacture cards domestically, and distribute cards to the rest of Europe.

The ’Smart Island’ program is supported by the Government of Madeira and the European Union.

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