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Biometric authentication expected to dominate app world: report

More than 770 million biometric authentication applications are expected to be downloaded per year by 2019, up from just six million this year, pointing to the possible extinction of alphanumeric passwords, according to a new report from Juniper Research. 

A game changer in this space, Apple?s Touch ID capability has highlighted even more the hassle associated with remembering long, complicated passwords. As these become more unreliable when matched against today?s hackers, marketers can take advantage of biometric authentication to provide a more seamless user experience. 

?Firstly, it is important to take any predictive mobile study with a grain of salt,? said Shuli Lowy, marketing director of mobile at Ping Mobile, New York. ?Mobile growth projections can be valuable tools for planning and investing in the right places. 

?However, most mobile growth studies are funded by and/or quote companies that have a vested interest in mobile?s growth?making the studies somewhat skewed,? she said. ?Many reports also base their projections on a consistent rate of growth or on viral growth; the last few years have shown us that it is nearly impossible to properly predict mobile adoption rates accurately.  

?What we do know is that biometric authentication is growing and that we can expect it to continue to grow over the coming years. Well-executed biometric authentication can add two key value propositions: more accurate authentication and a smoother path to transact.?

Forgive and forget
The aforementioned data is attributed to Juniper Research. Its recent report Human Interface & Biometric Technologies: Emerging Ecosystems, Opportunities & Forecasts 2014-2019 states that a key benefit of biometrics is a capability to enhance accessibility by reducing rejection rates of authentication systems.

It also argued that in addition to the enhanced security, biometric applications can improve the user experience by making it low friction and easy for the consumer to make transactions.

The report also claims that as consumers seek to reduce the likelihood of their social media profiles being hacked, service providers such as Facebook may turn to facial scanning to add value through increased authentication security. 

However, the report cautions that there is a real need to reassure consumers of the security of biometric technologies over alphanumeric authentication and warns that significant public education would be necessary for this potential of the technologies to be realized. 

Safe and secure
The report found that a number of high-profile deployments of biometric authentication techniques will drive wider adoption and highlighted Apple?s combination of Apple?s Touch ID authentication allied to tokenization in NFC payments as a key case in this regard.

It further argues that fingerprint authentication will account for the overwhelming majority of such apps in the medium term, driven by increasing deployment of fingerprint scanners within mid-range smartphones. However, the report found that other forms of biometric identification that do not require embedded hardware are also emerging, such as Descartes Biometrics? ERGO ear print biometric authentication app and Nuance?s voice authentication service. 

In June 2014, mobile commerce application Shop It To Me replaced its database of passwords with a one-time link sent to users? email addresses that permanently logs in members until they choose to log out manually.

Recognizing the inconvenience of memorizing and maintaining numerous passwords, app producers also realized choosing the ?Forgot your password?? option is not an easy task to complete on mobile devices. While cyber attacks remain a daily threat, legacy systems have made it nearly impossible to login if passwords are forgotten (see story).

?Accurate authentication does not just affect the technology information sector; it affects the marketing sector as well,? Ms. Lowy said. ?More accurate authentication can ultimately lead to a reduction in the amount of ad fraud as well as a more trusting relationship between consumers and their mobile device. 

?A smoother path to transact will mean a lot to marketers as it will start clearing the fuzzy path of mobile attribution,? she said. ?In many instances, consumers use their mobile devices to research products and decide what to buy?after which they close the sale on other devices, such as desktops. 

?This makes it difficult for marketers to attribute conversion success back to their investment in mobile. A smoother path to transact will mean that more consumers will convert on mobile?allowing marketers to more easily see what their mobile investment has achieved. Better mobile attribution will empower marketers to justify further mobile investment.? 

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York