Is biometric security the future of identity verification?

Some people are beginning to favour biometric technology for online banking. But is it really the future of identity verification? Read the debate below and get involved, share your views.

Yes, says George, The Fraud Prevention Guru

Biometrics are the future. They’re already here, enjoying widespread adoption and hugely popular with many people – even among the older generation.

Two areas where security is most important appear at the top of the list of accounts people say they favour using biometric technology for – online banking and authorising of payments.

Recent innovations and products have really brought biometrics into everyday life. While a large proportion of adults are already embracing biometrics, the next couple of years are when we’ll see the biggest boom.  Biometric identification has the potential to offer a very secure and seamless experience when logging in, managing accounts and is seeing vast investment from all sectors where customer accounts are held.

Biometrics, facial recognition, scanned fingerprints and so on – unlike passwords and log-ins – are us. They are very difficult to fake or recreate and it’s an area that’s only going to get more secure as more innovations come online.

No, says Penny, The Identity Verification Master

We’ve done a fair bit of research on this and it has yielded some very interesting findings*.

On the face of it, when it comes to managing accounts online, three in five people (61%) believe biometric identification is just as secure, or even more secure, than the current system of passwords – including anything from emails and social media, to banking and pension log-ins.

So while it highlights the rapidly growing consumer confidence and willingness to adopt biometric technology for identification needs, right now it’s worth stopping and just taking a careful look at what’s on the table.

Biometric security is quickly becoming a factor in everyday life, spearheaded by the inclusion of fingerprint scanners on newer smartphone models.  Unsurprisingly, fingerprint scanning is the biometric identification most UK adults are comfortable with, given two fifths (40%) say they would be happy relying on it to access online accounts.

But there are reservations about widespread adoption of biometrics – particularly retina scanning. We found that less than one in five (19%) people were willing to have their ID verified in this way.  Similarly, less than one in ten (9%) would be comfortable with camera facial recognition as a form of identification, while just one in twenty (5%) say they’d be happy using voice recognition technology to unlock their online accounts. Also bear in mind voice recognition has been around for more than 20 years, so that really reflect long-term cultural resistance to just one technological innovation.

Once again, consider the issue of inclusivity. Will older segments of society be comfortable relying on biometric security? We’re duty bound to ensure the society we all contribute to is fully inclusive.

How secure is the data underlying the process? What safeguards are in place and are there risks that back-office systems can get hacked? By far the best route to using biometrics is to add it to the identity and fraud armoury, making it another element in a multi-layered strategy that helps shut out the villains.

*Research conducted by Opinium Research between 23 and 25 September 2015 among 2002 respondents to a nationally-representative sample.