6 August 2014

Biometrics To Replace Passwords! I Just Can’t Put My Finger On Why It Would

A recent survey from Intelligent Environments has revealed that 79% of the 2,000 consumers its polled would be prepared to replace passwords with biometric security. But the truth is that if you give a consumer a choice of anything over a password they will take it, since passwords have become a huge pain in everybody's life - even when you're not online.

That said, to say fingerprints are the way forward is quite a leap. Talking about the iPhone 5s as a stepping stone to delivering a fingerprint reader to the masses is in reality a pipedream. In Europe the iPhone accounts for less than 20% of the smart phone market (depending on which poll you read) and of that only a subset are 5s devices, so in reality there aren’t many of the touch ID readers out there. The iPad Air 2 is rumoured to have a touch ID reader too when it is released, but the sales of iPads have already fallen off a cliff, as the market gets saturated and consumers don’t upgrade their tablets as often as their phone. Apple are only just opening up the fingerprint reader to other developers to make use of, all while Samsung is doing something completely different with Android and the Galaxy S5. Let us not forget the fact that that the iPhone 5s touch ID fingerprint reader was hacked within hours of it being released.

So, if you rephrase the consumer question to something like “would you switch from a password to a fingerprint if it cost you £550+ to get started and has proven to be unsecure?” I don’t think you would get a very high uptake rate.

At the end of the day biometric solutions are expensive and history has shown that the lower cost you make them the less secure they become. When a consumer uses a bank login system they expect it to be free, but in reality somebody is paying for it somewhere; and you’ll find that it’s the consumer one way or another. A viable mass market banking login system has be very secure, very low cost and very easy to use, which means forgoing a biometric hardware offering; at least for the foreseeable future. The good news is that there are already technologies on the market today that can deliver on the cost vs security vs usability factors if the banking world would care to look beyond the big brand vendors for an answer.

Author: Steven Hope, CEO of Winfrasoft

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