By 2020, the Consumer Market for Mobile Biometrics Will Exceed $34.6 Billion

As biometrics are believed to be the most convenient method of identification/authentication, the technology is rapidly gaining popularity in the financial services industry and beyond.

Seeking to leverage the technology, a range of banks have turned to testing biometrics on limited audiences/particular markets. Moreover, there is also a range of government-powered initiatives with biometric identification. It may not take long till the industry makes biometric authentication mainstream and leaves passwords once and forever.

The biometrics market is expected to experience a substantial growth over the coming years. Some of the recent estimations suggest that by 2020, global mobile biometric market revenues will reach $34.6 billion annually.

Mobile technology is believed to become a major force in accelerating the adoption of biometrics. Today, there are 750 million biometric smartphones in use, representing more than 30% of the global smartphone installed base. In addition, more that 800 million biometrically enabled transactions will be completed annually on mobile devices by 2020 generating nearly $7 billion in annual biometric authentication revenue.

As Maxine Most, Acuity Market Intelligence Principal, commented regarding the trend indicated by the company, "The proliferation of biometric devices for consumer, enterprise, and civil use, the explosive growth of biometrically enabled transactions, and the global consensus that passwords and tokens have become dangerously obsolete have created an unstoppable force for change.

These forces are not only transforming e- and m-commerce and on and off-line payments, but enterprise physical and logical access control, home security, border control, the Internet of Things, and civil identity programs as well."

Professionals also list interesting cases when biometrics can be helpful in terms of creating personalized environments, for example. Karl Martin, Founder of Nymi, brought up an example of cars, saying, "We're looking at how identity can be used to create completely personalized experiences. You may have a shared vehicle but you have preferences in terms of the seat height and position and the steering wheel and entertainment and all of those things.

Not all biometrics are born equal

However, even with fascinating use cases and potential benefits, convenience for the customer and increased efficiency is one of the top priorities that can ensure a wide adoption. As Philippe Huysman, Global Portfolio Manager – Access Control at Siemens Building Technologies, notes, Customers are looking to remove the need for any kind of physical card or key fob and therefore, eliminate the associated life cycle costs such as card issue and lost or defective card replacement. Furthermore, some organizations will select biometrics to reflect their brand values as it is perceived as more innovative or technologically advanced.

Moreover, not all biometrics are born equal and as Huysman believes, it's important to choose the right biometric methodology.

Some biometrics are more difficult to collect and therefore, less subject to exploitation, for example, palm vein biometrics. Conversely, easily collectible biometrics such as facial recognition can have a high user acceptance as our faces are already in the public eye.

Not only is biometric technology expected to become a major trend in the consumer electronics and payments market, but FCA also believes that biometrics will allow regulation and compliance processes to be looked at differently as the technology could enable more efficient and/or robust ways to verify identity.