Biometric security use on the rise

Wednesday, 23 November, 2016

Biometric security use on the rise

New research from Deloitte suggests that the use of biometrics is moving to the forefront of smartphone technology. According to the study, one in three smartphones has a fingerprint scanner and almost 70% of users access this capability regularly.

Deloitte forecasts that by 2020, the average Australian will have as many as 200 online accounts, each requiring secure controls to access. Biometrics is heralded as a simple, convenient and quick single-tap solution to the challenges this will pose.

According to Stuart Johnston, partner and leader of Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) group, the increasing acceptance of biometrics will lead to an increase in the range of applications where fingerprint readers are used.

“Initially we have seen fingerprints being used as a faster alternative to a numeric password to unlock phones, but this has now extended to unlock applications and authorise payments for online content from an app store,” he said.

“As consumers and business have become more accepting of biometrics, they are being used for higher-value in-store and app payment verification, and the fingerprint can now be used to authorise a transaction as high as the user’s credit card limit,” Johnston said.

The survey shows that awareness of fingerprint biometrics is greater with Apple iPhone 6 users (81%) compared to Android smartphone users (49%), most likely due to the more controlled experience when using an Apple device.

“Over the next few years we expect usage of fingerprint readers to increase markedly as they are incorporated into mid-range smartphone models and users become more comfortable with the authentication process.

“We also expect the smartphone’s fingerprint reader to be used in conjunction with websites accessed by consumers’ computers to authorise payments,” Johnston said.

Fingerprint still fallible

Johnston says that for all its evident merits, the fingerprint reader is not infallible.

“It is possible — albeit increasingly difficult — to make copies of a fingerprint. However, the latest fingerprint readers can more readily differentiate between a real finger and a copy of one,” he said.

He highlights other potential problems including humid or wet conditions, which may inhibit the sensor and increase the likelihood of false negatives.

The Deloitte Australian Mobile Consumer Survey is a part of a multicountry endeavour. The 2016 global study surveyed 53,000 respondents across 31 countries. Data cited above is based on a nationally representative sample of just over 2000 Australian consumers aged between 18 and 75.

Image credit: ©James Thew/Dollar Photo Club

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