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Passwords are a pain for everyone — Boomers to Gen Z. Biometrics slow to replace them

Passwords are a pain for everyone — Boomers to Gen Z. Biometrics slow to replace them
 

Often, research comes along that illuminates a startling insight. This is not one of those times.

A pair of research reports, from two digital security firms, say that a lot of people who forget their passwords when trying to complete an online transaction find something else to do. Like pet the dog or build Victorian doll houses from toothpicks.

The market trend is toward multi-factor authentication including biometric identifiers. The trend is moving too slow for some, however.

Beyond Identity finds that password use is costing companies money.

Its researchers surveyed shoppers and found a quarter of would-be buyers were willing to upturn a digital cart with merchandise worth at least $100 if they reached checkout only to discover they had forgotten their password.

Faced with the process of changing the password, they left the scene.

On average, a purchase had to total at least $162 before shoppers were willing to reset a password.

The most commonly forgotten financial passwords? Those for online banking.

And then, the biggest class of consumer in the United States, Baby Boomers, are most apt to use a golden oldie of a password when they have forgotten the one needed at the moment.

Beyond Identity sells “invisible” multi-factor authentication, or MFA. Its service binds IDs cryptographically to devices as an alternative to passwords, so it can be expected to pull out some embarrassing — if not unexpected — statistics in verification.

Indeed, another ID verification vendor, Transmit Security, also has some statistics that, while not surprising, might finally spur companies to move off the password dime.

The company surveyed 600 young adults, aged 18 years to 24, and learned that fully half of Gen Z scoots if they cannot remember a password.

It is understandable that they are so ready to bolt. Eighty-five percent do some or all of their online shopping on their phone. Eighty-three percent log into bank and payment accounts by phone.

And almost 40 percent of Gen Z bank and make payments only by phone.

SMS OTPs frequently do not reach them, perhaps in part because one in three has more than one mobile phone number.

The upshot is that it remains too hard for many people (of any age group) to complete the often-grueling task of resetting a password with their thumbs, even if they are sitting on a couch.

They have been using device-based biometrics for years, however, Transmit CEO Mickey Boodae observes in the announcement.

What is, perhaps, eye-opening is that Transmit Security found that 28 percent of Gen Z cannot be bothered to change a stolen password. That would be business lost, perhaps permanently.

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