Biometric Authentication Use Poised to Explode

A key benefit of biometrics is its capability to enhance accessibility by reducing rejection rates of authentication systems.

biometrics and juniper

More than 770 million biometric authentication applications will be downloaded annually by 2019, up from just 6 million this year. The biometric adoption trend is dramatically reducing dependence on alphanumeric passwords in the mobile phone market, according to a report from Juniper Research.

Key benefits of biometrics include enhanced accessibility and reduced rejection rates, according to the Juniper report. Additionally, biometric applications can improve the user experience by making it low- friction and easy for the consumer to make transactions, Juniper found.

"I would say that the primary security concerns around deploying biometrics in handsets echo those in biometrics generally – for example, if authentication is carried out using a fingerprint it is possible for that fingerprint to have been copied," Dr. Windsor Holden, head of consultancy and forecasting at Juniper, told eWEEK. "It is unlikely, but by no means impossible. However, if you have some kind of two-factor authentication – password plus biometric – then that again reduces the likelihood of fraud still further."

As consumers seek to reduce the likelihood of their social media profiles being hacked, service providers such as Facebook may turn to facial scanning as a means to increase authentication security and add value, the report said.

"Biometric adoption is already becoming mainstream, for example at passport control for those with ePassports. It’s also now widely used in high schools – my stepdaughter pays for her lunch using a fingerprint ID at the school canteen checkout linked to an online wallet," Holden noted. "So it’s already widely used by younger demographics, and incorporating it into mobile devices is a logical next step."

The report cautioned that there is a real need to reassure consumers of the security of biometric technologies over alphanumeric authentication and warned that significant public education would be necessary for this potential of the technologies to be realized.

The challenge is persuading target audiences that an application enabled with biometric functionality is more effective or attractive than other apps in its field that lack that functionality, Holden said.

Other challenges include ensuring that users understand how to use biometric functionality and convincing them that it provides accurate authentication, he said.