According to a report from Goode Intelligence, there are a number of compelling reasons to use the mobile phone for biometric security purposes. Mobile phone biometric security, says the study, is a versatile third factor that can protect digital assets on the mobile device, as well as enhance the authentication process.
Alan Goode, the author of the report and founder of the analysis firm, said that the conditions are now right to create a strong market, and he forecasts that the current global user base of four million biometric/smartphone users in 2011 will rise to 39 million users by 2015.
This growth, says the report, will come from two technology groups: embedded mobile biometrics, including fingerprint sensors embedded by device manufacturers; and third-factor authentication, centering on mobile biometrics used in combination with multi-modal authentication solutions, and in particular voice-based biometrics.
There are, says Goode, an estimated 13 million mobile devices around the world that are already benefiting from embedded mobile biometrics in the form of fingerprint sensors, with a significant number being used in South-East Asia – particularly in Japan where consumers are benefiting from fingerprint-based biometric security to protect NFC (near field communications) payments at the physical point of sale.
Goode says he believes that this model could be replicated elsewhere, with 2011 being seen as a pivotal year in the adoption of mobile payments using NFC in the rest of the world. There is, he adds, a strong possibility that the Japanese model of using mobile phone-based biometric security will be duplicated.
“It may not necessarily replace existing authentication methods, such as Chip and PIN, as the primary authentication method but could undoubtedly augment it in certain circumstances”, he explained.
Goode states in his report that there are indications that more device manufacturers are turning to EMB to enhance security and differentiate their models in an ever-crowded market. Motorola, for example, has been heavily marketing the security benefits of using biometrics (fingerprint sensor) to protect its enterprise-ready Android smartphone, the Atrix, and there are rumours circulating of voice recognition features in the iPhone 5.
“We believe a biometric groundswell is building. The market is currently slow; but pressure is growing. The conditions are ripe for rapid change – for biometrics to move from an 'interesting concept' to a 'must have' for all smart mobile devices,” he said.
Goode's report notes that the main drivers behind market growth and the adoption of mobile phone biometric security include device security protection, mobile commerce and NFC technology.