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How Biometrics will Advance Mobile Payment Security

With password-based personal identity solutions becoming increasingly impractical, device vendors and mobile network service providers have begun implementing an alternative second factor -- using a fingerprint, iris, facial feature or vein pattern to establish an individual's identity.

Biometric identifiers provide the user an additional layer of smartphone security. There is increased reliance on biometric user identification in the security industry itself -- iris and fingerprint scanning are commonplace in the U.S. market, as well as Europe and some other parts of the world.

In the mobile communications arena, biometric recognition technologies are increasingly being deployed to identify mobile subscribers and to allow them to unlock their handsets, as well as being used as a method to authenticate the user when making a payment through mobile devices.

Mobile Payments Market Development

Juniper Research now predicts that the biggest shift in mobile payment security will be the move towards software-based methods, which rely on standard smartphone components.

They forecast that users of these methods will increase from an estimated 429 million in 2018 to over 1.5 billion in 2023. Juniper analysts believe that this will usher in an era where mobile payments authentication utilizes multiple biometrics based on people’s device usage patterns.

The latest Juniper Research worldwide market study found that the use of software-based biometrics -- such as that offered by voice or facial recognition -- will fuel growth in smartphone mobile payments across all price ranges.


The hardware-agnostic nature of this will be key to driving adoption, increasing biometrically authenticated transactions at an average of 76 percent per year globally. The major growth for this will come from Asia, with North American usage growing at just 46 percent per year.

"Mobile payment security will broaden hugely thanks to the implementation of pure software solutions," said James Moar, senior analyst at Juniper Research. "The key battle now will be to convince users, particularly those in Europe and North America, that these methods are just as secure as traditional hardware-based security."

Juniper Research anticipates that fingerprint biometrics will become increasingly prevalent, with an estimated 4.5 billion smartphones using the technology by 2023.

Outlook for Mobile Biometric Technologies

However, with the Apple iPhone X and other smartphones offering facial and eye-based identification, Juniper believes that fingerprint sensors will decline as a proportion of smartphone biometric hardware.

This will reduce from just over 95 percent of smartphones using fingerprint-based security in 2018, to under 90 percent by 2023. Thanks also to the increase in software-based biometrics, fingerprint sensor use will become much more contextual, rather than the default biometric option.

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