Juniper Research: Mobile Payment Security’s Future Software-Based

September 6, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Security in mobile payments has been the single biggest issue in mobile payments since mobile payments were actually a thing, by many standards. While the convenience of paying for things from a mobile phone interface was certainly tempting, many thought the risks of losing their cash through that same interface too great. Thus mobile payments makers have been frantically working to improve their offerings in security for years, to the point we are today. A new report from Juniper Research says this is only going to continue, and the new cause celebre for mobile payments will be software-based security.

The Juniper report—titled “Mobile Payment Security: Biometric Authentication and Tokenisation 2018-2023”—might have some on edge; software-based security would mean relying on standard smartphone components, and standard components can be studied by anyone, including hackers. But the Juniper report makes it clear: users of software-based security will nearly quadruple, going from around 429 million in 2018 to clear 1.5 billion in 2023.

Basically, the report calls for a massive acceleration in biometrics security, which depends heavily on standard smartphone components for its use. Since biometrics are largely hardware-agnostic—the components are the same whether built into a Samsung, Apple, or BlackBerry device—the sheer universality of them will drive use and adoption rates hard.

Report author James Moar noted “Mobile payment security will broaden hugely thanks to the implementation of pure software solutions. 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.”

Asia will lead the way in growth on this front, with North American usage gaining a comparatively meager 46 percent per year. This is actually quite rational given that mobile payments use is exploding throughout Asia. Thus, security will become increasingly valuable as mobile payments mechanisms themselves increase in quantity and user bases. While there’s a certain risk to turning more to off-the-shelf components—as noted previously, it’s easier to study them and find weaknesses—there’s a certain value there too as standardization kicks in and allows everyone’s research to proceed along a single path.

There are risks to this angle, but there’s risk everywhere. Biometrics are powerful security, and seeing it become the standard should leave users feeling good about their protection.