If you're as plugged in a we are, then you probably have something like 150 online accounts. That means you probably have 150 variations of the same half-dozen login names and passwords. And chances are you've gotten a message from a friend in the last few months telling you that it looks like you got hacked again, after he received email spam to enlarge an embarrassingly small body part. Well, we think the days of the alphanumeric password are numbered. The age of biometric authentication is dawning.
Consumer use remains basic, though. According to a report published in May 2018 by the University of Texas, the highest percentage of US consumers who used biometric authentication used it to unlock personal electronic devices. Fewer respondents used it to log in to bank accounts, buy items online and access various apps and services. Many see biometric identification as easier and more convenient than passwords or PINs but are increasingly concerned about digital privacy and security. They're much more comfortable with biometrics systems that use personal information to keep them safe than they are with those that collect data for marketing.
Authenticating who is truly behind any action, whether it's logging into Twitter or accessing a bank account, is the biggest challenge in security today. At the enterprise level, this reality is infinitely more critical: businesses need to completely secure access to their systems and data, and be certain that only those who are granted access have it. At the same time, companies must also make sure their employees are able to work as productively as possible -- and constant and stringent security protections would certainly get in the way of "business as usual." These situations create a dichotomy that firms and security experts have struggled to overcome. To date, PINS, passwords and OTP hardware have been the compromise of choice: enough to authenticate a user's access, but not so burdensome that employees can't get their jobs done.
The card network is collaborating with transport organizations to potentially authenticate consumers based on their face or gait, per MarketWatch. Once a system identified a consumer through one of these methods, they'd be allowed to pass a barrier and would be charged via an account they'd set up previously. Facial recognition is already being used for transit payments in parts of China, but tracking the unique way a person walks may be a more novel biometric authentication option. The card network appears to be interested in a variety of potential biometric identifiers with use cases that could expand well beyond transit. Mastercard is reportedly looking at echocardiogram and vein patterns as ways to identify consumers.