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Mobile commerce next killer app for biometrics


Mobile commerce is emerging as the next killer application for biometrics.

Previously, Biometrics Research Group, Inc. accurately predicted that biometrics would become integrated within a wide number of mobile devices during the last smartphone product release cycle. The consultancy also correctly predicted that integration would be driven by smartphone and tablet manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung Electronics.

Now, another prediction is proving accurate. In a Biometrics Research Note issued in March 2013, the research vendor stated it believed that by next year, biometric fingerprint identifiers would eventually supplant written Apple ID passwords: “By 2015, it might become possible to purchase new Apple devices at its retail store using a thumbprint impression.” This week, BiometricUpdate.com reported that Apple is preparing to launch an “iWallet” app allowing customers to easily make retail payments through their mobile phones. The new app will reportedly leverage the firm’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor to verify a customer’s identity.

Apple has already told some of its partners that the new iPhone will include a “secure element” system that will allow it to store sensitive data such as financial credentials. This secure element system is expected to be the same secure system that currently stores the user’s fingerprint data and has the ability to store future mobile health data. Apple is apparently also looking to operate the system without giving up control to wireless carriers.

Recent news item also claim that dialogue between Apple and credit card vendors, including Visa, concerning the new mobile commerce application has heated up in recent months. Sources briefed on the talks say that Apple executives are discussing the launch of a mobile wallet application as soon as the autumn to permit consumers to use their iPhones to purchase goods in brick-and-mortar retail stores.

The launch of the mobile wallet application would be timed to coincide with the launch of the long-rumoured iPhone 6 in October. This time horizon would allow Apple to build popularity and market share for the iWallet app on the lead-in to the holiday shopping season and the New Year.

Last year, the Biometrics Research Group predicted that worldwide mobile payment transactions would reach US$250 billion in 2014. The research consultancy, which publishes BiometricUpdate.com, also estimates that global annual transactions will hit US$750 billion by 2020, with more than 700 million consumers taking advantage of mobile payment systems.


Mobile payment transaction growth, combined with biometrics, will ensure increased speed of mobile commerce, especially in North America, because the technology can offer a higher level of security, while providing an intuitive customer experience.

In its next special report, slated to be published soon and focused exclusively on mobile biometric authentication, the Biometrics Research Group predicts that the inclusion of biometrics in mobile devices will generate about US$9 billion worth of revenue for the biometrics industry by 2018.

According to Forrester Research, commerce transactions in the United States completed on mobile phones and tablets are expected to total US$114 billion in 2014. Two-thirds of those sales, or about US$76 billion, are occurring on tablet computers, while the remainder are occurring on mobile phones. This equals nearly a third, or 29 percent, of all e-commerce transactions that occur. While mobile commerce is growing quickly, currently it only accounts for nine percent of total commerce transactions in the U.S. By 2018, Forrester Research projects that mobile commerce will account for 11 percent of all commercial transaction. Also by 2018, Forrester expects that mobile commerce transactions in the U.S. will total US$414 billion.

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