Mobile device fingerprint use surges in UK: Deloitte

Almost four out of five smartphone users in the UK (79 percent) use their device’s fingerprint scanner, according to new research from Deloitte.

Deloitte’s seventh annual Mobile Consumer Survey, “State of the Smart,” shows that the number of UK smartphone users aged 16 to 75 who use their device’s fingerprint sensor increased by a third from last year to 12 million.

Thirty-six percent of mobile devices in the UK are now equipped with a fingerprint sensor, and among those who use it, almost all (96 percent) do so to unlock their device. Fingerprint authentication is also used by one in ten mobile users overall, and over a third of those who use their fingerprint sensor, for mobile payments.

Smartphone owners are also increasingly using their devices for everyday banking, with 41 percent checking bank balances at least once a week, and 20 percent using fingerprint authentication for money transfers.

“As mobile commerce grows, biometric authentication is likely to be increasingly used to bypass entering address and credit card details,” says Julian Rae, technology partner at Deloitte in Cambridge. “We would also expect more retailers – both physical and online – to enable fingerprint-based authentication of transactions within apps and from web pages and, as a result, may see higher usage than an app that requires traditional password entry.”

Deloitte estimates that there are now over a billion mobile devices globally with fingerprint sensors. Fingerprint remains the dominant biometric modality for mobile users, with less than three percent reporting that they use face, voice, or iris recognition. Facial recognition use is expected to increase rapidly, however, as Deloitte predicts that it will be used more frequently than fingerprints by the end of 2018, with individuals using 3D facial recognition sensors over 100 times daily.

“The fingerprint’s success has been driven in part by the biggest mobile handset manufacturers. New 3D facial scanners can be even more secure than fingerprint readers,” Rae adds. “As complex facial recognition technology continues to be standardised in new smartphone models, we would expect to see a gradual adoption of facial recognition biometrics amongst smartphone users, and for this functionality to be increasingly designed into application design.”

Survey results released by Bitglass last month showed enterprises still prefer fingerprints to facial recognition for mobile authentication, and a report commissioned by Fingerprint Cards showed that 42 percent of mobile devices have fingerprint sensors, but 82 percent of those who have them use them.

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