What’s next for biometrics? Exploring trends and dismantling misconceptions

What’s next for biometrics? Exploring trends and dismantling misconceptions

Guest post by Lina Andolf-Orup, Senior Director, Global Marketing & Comms at Fingerprints

Biometric technology is booming. Over 80 percent of all smartphones sold currently having some form of biometrics, while demand for biometrics in markets such as payments and access control is rapidly on the rise. In recent times, the value of biometrics has become even more apparent, enhancing new use cases with greater security, hygiene and convenience in the shift to the “new normal”.

Yet although biometrics is forecasted to grow significantly across all markets in the coming years, a few common misconceptions remain. As a result, some consumers still remain apprehensive about using the technology, especially as it enters more sensitive, personal areas, such as financial services and homes.

To explore what’s next for biometrics, let’s take a look at the trends that are propelling biometrics forward and the stubborn myths still to be dispelled to enable more people to benefit from the technology.

Biometrics – breaking into new markets

From facilitating hygienic payments to enabling secure remote working, biometrics has truly proven its value in recent months.

In payments, momentum was already gathering before the pandemic for biometric payment cards, with the first biometric payment card certified by a payment network in early January. The recent rise in popularity of traditional contactless cards as a more hygienic, convenient payment option has also further highlighted the benefits of biometrics in payments. By adding strong authentication to contactless cards, banks finally have the ability to remove the contactless cap and deliver consumers a truly ‘touch-free’ contactless payment experience, regardless of the amount.

Unsurprisingly, adoption timelines have accelerated in recent months, with BNP Paribas announcing its fast-tracking launch of its first commercial biometric payment cards this autumn. With more banks predicted to follow in quick succession, we estimate that by 2026 around 3 billion biometric payment devices will be shipped every year, including wearables, USB dongles and other form factors too.

In the security market, the business case for biometrics has also become clearer. With flexible working becoming the ‘new normal’ and the vehicle industry turning its eye to biometrics, it has become clear that more secure, convenient and hygienic access control solution are more important than ever before.

What biometric myths remain?

Fifteen years ago, consumer biometrics was in its infancy, with some cautious about its efficacy and security. The industry has come a long way since those early days through extensive R&D and investment, and many consumers have now embraced biometrics into their daily lives.

Yet some of those a few concerns linger, leaving some consumers unaware of just how smart today’s technology truly is.

Data privacy for the GDPR age

One of the most stubborn myths is that sensitive biometric data is always stored by third-parties in the cloud and is therefore a privacy concern. However, in the case of consumer application implementations, the biometric data is encrypted and stored securely on the user’s device – meaning your biometric data never leaves you or your device. These implementations also utilize robust hardware security – for example, biometric payment cards use the Secure Element (SE) on cards, while smartphones leverage the device’s Trusted Execution Environment (TEE).

Spoof-proof? 

Another common concern is that thieves could steal and spoof your fingerprint, leaving you vulnerable to theft and hacking attacks. While technically possible, the advent of active capacitive sensors has made it incredibly difficult to spoof a fingerprint. With the latest sensors and software, spoofers would need considerable time, skill and money to compromise just one device. By comparison, hacking PINs and passwords is considerably simpler and more scalable, making it far more likely and lucrative.

These security benefits only increase with multi-modal authentication solutions too, for example combining fingerprints and face/iris to unlock a device. Besides being more secure than previous authentication solutions, biometrics also tends to be significantly more convenient than passwords and keys. After all, you cannot forget or lose your fingerprints!

The (U)X Factor

As consumers are most familiar with biometrics in smartphones with large batteries, many don’t realize that the latest biometric authentication solutions in payment cards, don’t need a battery and therefore don’t need to be charged. Extensive R&D means that biometric payment cards can take power from the payment terminal in the same way a contactless card does.

Finally, some of you might recall sensors in early smartphones not working with a slightly wet finger. Now, considerable R&D has been invested to maximize acceptance of ‘difficult fingers’. Plus, with multi-modal biometrics, acceptance can keep working in all weather conditions, with backup authentication best fitting the environment. For example, iris or facial recognition when wearing gloves.

Taking a look forward

Although a handful of misconceptions remain, biometrics adoption will only continue to grow, thanks to its rare ability to make consumers lives’ both easier and more secure. After becoming mainstream in the mobile industry, biometrics is a mature and preferred technology by consumers, set to simplify card payments and access control in the coming months and years.

With new biometric use cases continuing to emerge, the technology is now gearing up the unlock a new generation of authentication throughout the fabric of daily life, providing security and convenience at each and every touch point.

About the author

Lina Andolf-Orup is Senior Director of Global Marketing & Comms at Fingerprint Cards, a biometric solutions provider for payments and access.  Download their eBook dispelling biometric myths.

DISCLAIMER: Biometric Update’s Industry Insights are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Biometric Update.

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