Q&A: The Latin American Biometrics Market

Kathryn Cave catches up with Anthony Krueger, Channel Sales Manager for Synel, Latin America to learn more about differences in the local market.

Can you tell me a little about your experience?

Time America offers biometric data collection including fingerprint reading technology, face recognition and hand punch technology. And also develops related software applications and middleware. My experience is based on the distribution of these solutions and supporting projects and proposals in about 10 different countries across the LatAm region. I contrast this with the experience of my colleagues who supply our distribution channel in the US and Canada.

How is the Latin American market unique

The advantage of biometric solutions (over badges and PINs) are mainly added security and the prevention of fraudulent time and attendance record entries (punches). Overall, most users in the Latin America region choose biometric solutions for many of the same reasons as users in other parts of the world.

[However], the extra-high demand for security and unique work environments in LatAm means that biometric identification is often used in a distinct manner. Obviously, each country in Latin America is unique so I am making generalities.

There are a number of factors that make the LatAm market unique in this industry. I nonetheless see two main distinctions:

(1) LatAm customers tend to use biometric identification for their access control projects. In the USA and Canada, by contrast, biometric devices tend to be used more commonly for time and attendance data collection.

(2) Generally, LatAm users tend to favor more hearty and durable biometric equipment than their counterparts in the USA and Canada (for access control or time and attendance).

What are the reasons for these differences?

The security concerns in LatAm are greater [than elsewhere]. In many Latin American countries there has been a heightened concern about crime. Businesses and governments must accordingly take extra measures to prevent and deter unauthorized access from outsiders. This factor results in a tendency to use biometric equipment for identification as opposed to the reliance on badge or PIN only.

How do differences impact the use of biometrics in LatAm?

Employers must defend against / deter employee vandalism aimed at the biometric equipment itself (usually by disgruntled employees). To counter these internal threats, users in Latin America tend to prioritize the durability of equipment over accuracy. In many cases, they employ the use of special enclosures and protective accessories, designed to protect biometric time and attendance equipment (time clocks) from vandalism. Additionally, biometric equipment is often monitored by CCTV.

There are more outdoor security checkpoints due to a fear of intruders. This means there is a greater need for weather resistant equipment and sometimes accessories designed to provide added protection from the elements. In our experience, the use of biometric solutions for access control and time and attendance data collection in government entities is more common in Latin America.

There is an increased need for biometric solutions that can operate with only occasional connection to a network. This is because many work sites and government installations that lie in remote, inaccessible areas (such as rainforests). Biometric identification is key here to prevent fraudulent punches and unauthorized access in these remote areas where it is difficult to oversee the activities of employees and supervisors and control the access.

What do you think the next 12 months will hold for biometrics in LatAm?

In the next year, biometric solutions are expected to become even more popular, especially those paired with web-based software applications. In addition, the face recognition option is expected to grow in popularity because of its durability, convenience and reliability. Finally, in the education sector, we’ll see a growth in the interest in biometric technology systems designed for the tracking of student attendance. This serves as a measure for security as well as attendance metrics that serve fiscal purposes.


Kathryn Cave is Editor at IDG Connect


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