Brits in Biometrics Boost as 20% Use Fingerprint Tech

Over one fifth of the UK’s smartphone users now authenticate via their fingerprint, highlighting the growing influence of biometrics in cybersecurity, according to Deloitte.

The Big Four consultancy polled 4000 British consumers to compile its sixth annual Mobile Consumer Survey, There’s no place like phone.

It found that 37 million (81%) now have access to or own a smartphone, although this growth is slowing as the UK enters the ‘peak smartphone’ era.  

While PINs and passwords (63%) are still the most popular way to authenticate via the device, nearly a quarter of respondents (21%) said they use fingerprint sensors to do so.

The report continued:

“We expect ownership of fingerprint readers to continue increasing rapidly. Many millions of people are likely to acquire a handset with a fingerprint reader over the coming year (either as a new or second-hand phone) and some people who currently have a fingerprint reader may start using it, as more apps offer this functionality.”

Fingerprint biometrics have several advantages over other forms of authentication such as voice recognition, according to Deloitte.

They’re fast, inconspicuous and aren’t subject to ambient conditions in the same way as other biometrics.

For example, voice recognition might not work in noisy places and can be a distraction to colleagues or friends, the report claimed. In a similar way, facial recognition requires the same lighting conditions as the one the original reference image was taken in or else it won’t work.

That’s perhaps why just 2% of respondents claimed they use these two biometrics.

The findings echo those of Callcredit Information Group’s Fraud & Risk report out last week, which found a majority of UK firms are expecting to increase their spending on biometrics in the next three years.

“There are lots of different types of biometric solutions, from established forms to new emerging technologies which can add to the complexity of what to adopt for which use case,” the firm’s fraud & ID director, John Cannon, told Infosecurity.

“A firm should ask some fundamental questions when considering biometric technology, such as considering if it delivers value in the form of convenience and security to customers without compromising one for the other.”

The robustness and usability of any biometric authentication should also be considered, he argued.

The findings chime with similar UK research from credit card giant Visa which found that trust in this form of online authentication has grown significantly over the past 12 to 24 months. 

The poll of 2000 British adults found that fingerprint scanning (88%) was seen as the most secure form of payment, although iris scanning (83%) came a close second, with facial recognition (65%) in third.

According to Visa, banks (85%), payment networks (81%), global online brands (70%), and smartphone companies (64%) are all trusted to offer these types of authentication methods.

However, not everyone is on board with biometrics just yet.

In August this year, cybersecurity consultant Jessica Barker interviewed 1000 people about their attitudes to biometrics, and found more than half (51%) said they wouldn’t use the technology, either because they don’t trust it (29%) or they don’t understand it (22%).

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