One of the big announcements Apple made this week along with it's latest iPhone release and its new smart watch was a mobile payments platform which combines existing Apple features, support from major banks and retailers, and Apple's fingerprint authentication. Is this an indicator that biometrics are finally reaching a place of widespread acceptance?
One of the major roadblocks when it comes to universal acceptance and widespread adoption of biometric technologies has traditionally been the costs associated with distributing, maintaining, and collecting the technology and data required to perform biometric identification. With built in software and hardware, the Apple has met this challenge head on by integrating biometric authentication into an extremely popular device and baking it into software that performs a critical function. This is a huge step forward for biometric technology on the path to ubiquity.
iPhones aside, where are we, really? "...there is no blanket acceptance of all biometrics – users have a preference for which types are used and how they are used. One study found the most acceptable application of biometrics was for passports (75%) or ID verification (53%) in official contexts, with credit card verification around 56%. Users were most accepting of fingerprint, hand, voice and keystroke/signature recognition (over 90%), with one third considering iris and retina recognition as potentially risky to their health" says this article discussing the rise of biometrics. Increasing awareness of biometric technologies, combined with an increasing collective acknowledgement of the danger of fraud in our everyday lives will push adoption forward.
The key could well be identifying the best use cases possible, where biometric authentication enhances, instead of detracts, from user experience. Apple realizes that mobile is one such use case, and that payments is an area where authentication is both required, and in need of an overhaul. Biometrics as an elegant solution to a real problem is a significant step forward for the industry and the space. It won't be long before adoption becomes more widespread, with Gartner predicting that 30% or more of users with devices connected to enterprise networks will be using biometric authentication by 2016.