Biometric convenience could become consumers’ worst nightmare

New findings from Juniper Research claims the number of mobile payments authenticated by biometrics will rise to nearly two billion this year, but questions whether the convenience is a safe bet.

Biometric authentication has been on the rise in recent months, as consumers increasing seek less time consuming ways to spend their hard-earned cash, and vendors search for ways to help them. Juniper Research estimates 60% of smartphone models are expected to ship with fingerprint sensors this year, though will this convenience open up consumers to the dangers of fraud and theft?

Apple Pay was the catalyst for the biometrics revolution in mobile payments, Android Pay and Samsung Pay have quickly caught onto the craze, offering their own solutions. What starting as fingerprint authentication has gradually evolved into ‘selfie payments’ using facial recognition technology and iris scanners. Since companies such as MasterCard have also bought into the craze the process can act as both authentication and a transaction enabler.

It sounds like something out of Tom Cruise’s Minority Report, but what would previously been seen as fiction is fast becoming a reality, as organizations such as India’s identification authority allow merchants to widely adopt the process. But is it safe?

“Typically, the more secure the solution, the more time-consuming the authentication process,” said Windsor Holden, Head of Forecasting & Consultancy at Juniper Research. “It is essential to offer a range of verification options allowing clients to determine what level of security is required for a given authentication.”

The question here is where is the line between secure and convenience? Vendors are increasing trying to keep up with the impatient consumer, though there surely has to be a point where enough is enough. Vendors have a responsibility to maintain basic security principles, and considering the embryonic stage a lot of these authentication technologies are in, common sense should play a role before too long.

Can technological developments keep pace with consumer demands?

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