Hitachi Research & Development is teaming up with blockchain developer Concordium Foundation to create a “proof of technology” for a biometric crypto wallet, according to a December 12 announcement.
The new wallet will allow users to generate a set of seed words using just their fingerprints or facial scan. It will not require users to store these seed words or remember them. Instead, users will be able to re-import the wallet’s accounts by undergoing the biometric scan a second time, Concordium representatives told Cointelegraph.
The wallet is still in an early stage of development, and the two respective teams refer to it as a “proof of technology” at this point rather than a full-fledged wallet. Once finished, it will employ Hitachi’s Public Biometric Infrastructure (PBI) in combination with Concordium network’s self-sovereign identity framework to create biometric-based accounts.
In a conversation with Cointelegraph, Concordium head of commercial Torben Kaaber and technical advisor Torben Pryds Pederson gave further details of the project.
According to Pederson, a biometric wallet may be especially useful for the Concordium network because the network requires users to go through an “ID process” before creating an account. This ID process is used to prevent malicious activity on the network, such as hacks and rug pulls. This makes preserving the user’s access to their ID especially important compared to those of other networks. However, Pederson also stated that biometric wallets could “in principle” be applied to any blockchain in the future, not just Concordium network.
Users will be able to unlock their wallets either by regenerating the seed words via a biometric scan or by decrypting a copy of their seed words using a key derived from the scan. Either way, an attacker will generally not be able to access the user’s account without somehow possessing the user’s face or fingerprint. If the user loses their device, they’ll be able to import their wallet into another device by undergoing the scan on the new device. Thus, users will no longer need to store copies of seed words, Kaaber and Pederson stated.
Related: New Optimism wallet lets users receive crypto via Twitter login
In an explanatory blog post published on Mach 25, 2022, Hitachi claimed that their team faced several challenges when developing the PBI. Biometric data is “fuzzy,” they claimed. Two different face or fingerprint scans never produce the exact same data, even if they are of the same person. To fix this problem, the team used “fuzzy key generation and special error correction technology” to “extract feature vectors” of scans. This allowed them to train the software to distinguish between scans of two different people vs two unique scans of the same person.
Most crypto wallets require users to store seed words as a backup in case their device crashes. If they lose this backup, they generally lose access to their account and any funds held within it. This has long been recognized as a roadblock that may be preventing mass adoption of crypto. The Hitachi and Concordium biometric wallet is one proposal to fix this problem, while MPC wallets and magic links represent two other possible options.
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