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Biometrics catching up to passwords as preferred method of online identification for consumers


Passwords and knowledge-based authentication remain the most popular method for consumers to identify themselves online, but biometrics are second, and the gap may be narrowing, according to a recent online survey by adaptive authentication provider Callsign.

While just under half of consumers in both the UK (45 percent) and U.S. (44 percent) prefer using passwords memorable information to access online accounts, biometrics are the preferred method for nearly a third of those in the UK (32 percent) and over a quarter of those in the U.S. (27 percent). The survey breaks out behavioral identification as its own category, with 6 percent of those in the U.S. and 3 percent of those in the UK selecting it as their preferred method of online identification.

Among respondents aged 18 to 24, 12 percent prefer using behavior as an identifier, compared to only 4 percent of those 55 years of age or older. The younger demographic is less likely to choose passwords (39 percent), but also less likely to choose biometrics (26 percent), compared to baby boomers, at 46 and 31 percent, respectively.

“The study suggests we’re at a tipping point where our reliance on simple passwords is on a steady downward turn. Although two-factor and multi-factor authentication, along with biometrics, are an improvement, they are still flawed,” says Callsign CEO Zia Hayat. “Ultimately, we understand the privacy of users is paramount. Companies need to offer choice and control when it comes to the data that is collected and the identification methods used – another reason multi-factor identification is so limited.”

“However, there is a new realm of behavioral identification that is truly revolutionising and streamlining identification and improving customer experiences, all whilst minimising fraud. Here at Callsign, we’re creating a much more positive experience with greater protection and better privacy for the consumer or worker,” Hayat concludes.

Significantly more people prefer knowledge-based identifiers for work account access in both the UK (58 percent) and U.S. (51 percent) than for personal use, as only 46 percent would choose the method to log in to an account to check the balance, and 44 percent would choose it for a payment or transfer. Only 15 percent of workers overall would prefer biometrics for work account access.

A recent report from Blink and Trusona indicated that more than two-thirds of consumers would choose passwordless multi-factor authentication over a traditional username and password login method.

Callsign raised $35 million in funding a year ago to scale its operations.

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