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Biometrics adoption rates adjust, fingerprint growth paused by pandemic, analyst Goode says



The biometrics market is seeing major shifts in demand for fingerprints and digital identity, and in sensor production due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, which Goode Intelligence explores in an announcement ahead of a webinar on healthcare and digital ID.

Biometric sensors that involve physical contact such as touching sensors on shared devices, especially ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) devices, door-locks and kiosks, will drop in popularity during the pandemic, as contactless solutions will take over in shared and public places. While Goode believes fingerprints as a biometric modality will still be used in some situations, Acuity Market Intelligence Principle Analyst and Chief Strategist Maxine Most warns the touch-based fingerprint reader market will be severely affected by the pandemic.

Large-scale deployment of biometric payment cards will likely be postponed for a year or two, as ongoing pilots will be cut short and new initiatives pushed back. With many factories closing, card manufacturing has also been affected.

Demand for biometric cards may increase in the longer run, however, and some biometrics providers have found it easier to sell their technology thanks to digital toolsets, Goode Intelligence CEO and Chief Analyst Alan Goode told Biometric Update in an interview.

Goode notes that one of the main drivers for biometric payment card adoption is an increased spend limit for contactless transactions to reduce the need to type a PIN code. Countries such as Egypt, Ireland, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and UK, where contactless cards have been widely adopted, are already following the trend.

The biometric sensor market and OEM supply are severely affected, as most shut down factories are based in China, South Korea and Taiwan. The industry is slowly getting back to normal in China, but it is working only at 70 to 80 percent capacity. High demand is expected for hybrid devices that perform fast biomedical checks to detect infected citizens. Already tested by law enforcement and airports in China, the technology could be used with smart watches, wrist bands and clothing to monitor bodily functions and confirm identity.

In May 2019, Goode predicted there would be more than 704 million digital identity verification checks worldwide in 2020. As the pandemic forced companies to switch to a remote workforce, the numbers are expected to rise by 15-20 percent.

A Goode Intelligence analyst report from November 2019 predicted more than three billion digital identity users by 2025, figure which may still be accurate despite different adoption rates between sectors.

The use of single token systems using biometrics throughout air travel processes, recently developed by consortiums of aviation stakeholders, will likely be looked at again, as revenues decline and resources are redirected to passenger monitoring and virus containment, according to the analysis.

More countries will likely show interest in national identity schemes that collect biometric and personal information from mobile networks and devices, social media, healthcare organizations, payments services and so on. Goode warns that these practices need to be carefully implemented without compromising user privacy or breaching privacy legislation.

On May 27, Goode Intelligence is organizing a free of charge online panel discussion to analyze how digital identity can improve healthcare services. The panel features identity experts from academia, Mastercard, Evernym, and truu, as well as Alan Goode.

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