Can mobile push biometrics to the mainstream?

Can mobile push biometrics to the mainstream

Mobile devices are rapidly becoming a key computing platform, transforming how people access business and personal information. Access to business data from mobile devices requires secure authentication, but traditional password schemes based on a mix of alphanumeric and symbols are cumbersome and unpopular, which makes users to avoid accessing business data on their personal devices altogether. Mobile biometric technology provides an important front-line security measure for both government agencies and commercial users. Mobile biometric identification devices designed for intuitive operations incorporate a reader, scanner and camera for the capture of biometric data which is then converted by software into digital formats for storage and comparison against other records held in biometric database.

The main reasons why the combination of mobile phone and biometrics is so important are about the convenience, security, and authentication. Apparently, the use of biometrics in authentication is embracing mobile and wearable technology. This will truly leverage the adoption of biometrically authentication into a wide range of services including e-payment and e-commerce. Deployment of biometric recognition technology in mobile and wearable devices will provide a significant enhancement in security as it has top-notch accuracy and high rate of enrollment. The mobile biometrics is segmented into three major sectors:

  • Biometric sensors embedded in smart mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, and wearable devices.

  • Biometric apps offered by biometric vendors or mobile service providers such as banks, payment processors, retailers, or online identity providers.

  • Biometric authentication for payment and non-payment transactions provided via secure cloud-based services linked to biometric apps on smart devices.

According to some researches recently, customers are gaining more confidences on using mobile biometrics for their retail payment. In 2013, the Natural Security, a provider of powerful authentication technology, conducted a trial in France and the results indicated that 94% of users were comfortable to use their fingerprint authentication to pay for all in-store purchases. Besides, half of all shoppers interviewed in the 2013 WordPay survey said that they wanted to use biometrics for payments. Recently, Gartner made the prediction that 30% of all companies will use biometrics on mobile devices by 2016, as reported by ZDnet.

Furthermore, the 2014 report of Acuity Market Intelligence projects that by 2020, global mobile biometric market revenues will reach $34.6 billion annually. This includes 4.8 billion biometrically enabled smart mobile devices generating $6.2 billion in biometric sensor revenue, 5.4 billion biometric app downloads generating $21.7 billion in annual revenues from direct purchase and software development fees, and 807 billion biometrically secured payment and non-payment transactions generating $6.7 billion in authentication fees. Acuity Market Intelligence also forecasts that rising demand for smartphones, tablets and wearable mobile devices that incorporate biometrics will drive a global market of 2.5 billion users with nearly 4.8 billion biometric devices by 2020. According to Acuity, within three years, biometrics will become a standard feature on smartphones as well as other mobile devices and “mobility is the driving force that will unleash the long awaited biometric revolution!”

The rich set of input sensors on mobile devices, including cameras, microphones, touch screens, and GPS, enables sophisticated multi-media interactions. Biometric authentication methods using these sensors could offer a natural alternative to password schemes since the sensors are familiar and already used for a variety of mobile tasks. Biometrics becomes more relevant due to the rapid growth in mobile, cloud, social media and the desire for instant information and real time access to services; some of which will soon require stronger means of authentication. Personal identification for mobile devices will become a focus for biometric technology. The biometric companies are continuing to develop mobile biometric devices for personal identification and privacy protection. It is expected the industry and the market will keep growing in that direction for the next coming years.