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Generation Z Predicts End to Passwords and PINs by 2020

Over half of Britons aged 16 to 24 believe passwords and PINs will be a thing of the past by 2020 as more user-friendly alternatives such as biometrics take their place, according to Visa Europe.

The card giant interviewed over 2000 UK adults to gauge different attitudes to new methods of authentication.

It found that three-quarters (76%) of so-called Generation Z respondents would feel comfortable using biometric security to pay, while 69% said they thought it would make their lives quicker and easier.

They also rated biometrics more secure than traditional authentication, scoring them 7/10 on average as opposed to 6/10 for passwords and PINs.

When it came to which types of biometric technology Generation Z respondents would most like to use instead of passwords, fingerprint scanning (70%) was the most popular, followed by retina scans (39%) and facial recognition (27%), the survey found.

“For banks and product providers this means two challenges. Firstly, to continue and quicken the pace of development on biometrics to answer this demand from Generation Z,” Visa Europe executive director, Jonathan Vaux said in a statement.

“Secondly, to continue to evaluate the increasing range of authentication options to ensure customer convenience and security as payment increasingly becomes embedded into a range of applications.”   

The race to adopt biometrics is certainly heating up. A new report from Juniper Research released this week predicted that biometric app downloads would rocket from six million this year to over 770 million by 2019.

It claimed big name deployments such as Apple’s Touch ID scanner on new iPhones will drive adoption.

However, security experts urged caution.

Roy Tobin, threat researcher at Webroot, pointed out that two-step authentication – possibly combining biometrics with a strong password – is the best option.

“There are a deluge of issues around data protection; who can access these fingerprints and how that data can be used are real concerns,” he added.

“Add in the fact that the iPhone fingerprint scanner was hacked less than two days after its release, and it doesn’t restore faith in this type of verification. With so many high-profile data breaches in 2014, we should not be looking for the simplest form of access, but the most secure.”

Silvio Kutic, CEO of SMS firm Infobip, cautioned that biometric systems may not be easy for firms with large, international user bases to implement.

“Although biometrics may have inherent security benefits and be more user friendly than remembering multiple passwords, one layer of security is never enough,” he added.

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