A Closer Look at Biometrics and Mobile Payment Security

September 14, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

We’ve heard plenty about mobile payments security, and about biometrics as perhaps the ultimate tool to make our mobile payments mechanisms safer. It would be easy to believe that biometrics represent the safest tool we’ve seen yet, but a new report from Paygilant suggests that it’s not all sunshine and roses in the biometrics front.

Make no mistake, biometrics are catching on and in a pretty big way. The mobile biometrics market, based on projections from MarketsandMarkets, is set to grow from $4.03 billion in 2015 to $9.33 billion by 2022. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 29.3 percent, and a point not to be taken lightly.

Yet there are problems with the concept that exist even to this minute that need to be addressed. One of the biggest such problems is that the process that allows data to be captured for later use isn’t always reliable. Any lack of accuracy in capturing data can mean the system is flawed from the word go. Another problem is that users don’t always approach biometrics the same way every time. Imagine how you’d say a phrase, for example, when you’ve just woken up, and then again about an hour later after your first cup of coffee, and then again after a long day.

Perhaps worse yet, biometrics requires routine updating. Despite what you may have heard, your fingerprints do change over time, or with injury. Voice changes, and even facial structure can all take place with age or even illness. Those thumbprints we were counting on aren’t quite so enduring as we may have expected.

Addressing these issues will require plenty of thought and consideration; some success has already been seen with a “layered approach” that integrates biometrics with other factors to create a better overall experience. Not a bad idea, and a certain amount of error forgiveness will be welcome so that you’re not locked out of the system for not sounding exactly the same way every time. Yet if it’s too forgiving, the protection aspect is lost, and that’s a problem.

Biometrics is still a comparatively young science, so some development should be taking place. It’s still likely to be better than the password / username system that’s dominated the landscape for years now.