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July 20, 2015

Biometric App Downloads for Smart Devices Ready to Shake Up Identity Segment

From voice to fingerprint and far beyond, biometrics are set to be one of the biggest advances in smartphones and mobile devices, providing a new layer of, in some cases, security that's very hard to beat. There's been a rapidly-increasing amount of interest in this particular field, though, as a new report from Acuity Market Intelligence suggests that, just between 2014 and 2020, there will be 12.9 billion such apps downloaded by roughly 2.2 billion mobile biometric users.

That's a bit of a bombshell in its own right, especially as the planet has about seven billion people to its credit right now. But the Acuity Market Intelligence report, titled “The Global Biometrics and Mobility Report: The Convergence of Commerce and Privacy”, only just got started with that point. The market for mobile biometrics worldwide is expected to generate over $67.9 billion over the course of the seven-year period in question, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 148 percent. Given that biometric apps generated under $100 million in annual revenue in just 2014, but are set to reach over $21.7 billion in 2020, it became staggeringly clear that biometrics would be a big deal, and soon. Acuity further went on to note that, in 2014, there were around 6.5 million biometric apps downloaded worldwide, a number that will positively explode to 5.4 billion downloads in just 2020.

What's spurring these numbers on to such almost preposterous levels? Acuity principal and the report's author, Maxine Most, offered up some comment around that question, saying “Biometrics is at the center of a firestorm of converging market forces driving the digital identity revolution. New and complex relationships between identity, mobility, and commerce are redefining global communication and commerce ecosystems and require frictionless, yet highly reliable security.” Further, Most detailed how biometrics would likely become “...standard on smart mobile devices,” and consumers' contact with such systems would illustrate the value of having such tools elsewhere.

There are some who believe that biometrics will ultimately become a replacement for the password / user name login dynamic that most employ today, and not without reason. While a password can be guessed, obtained by deception, or plain old strong-armed into submission via a practice known as brute-force cracking, a biometric system is much harder to dupe. After all, some note, a fingerprint is pretty hard to double, espionage movies notwithstanding. What's more, the fingerprint is a strong protection measure that's readily available; the finger containing the print is always on hand, and is therefore much easier to work with than trying to remember whether there was a letter, a number or an ampersand in the 17th character of that really strong random password created. Sure, the early days of facial recognition being beaten by photographs were disheartening, but there's been quite a bit of improvement since. So suggesting that users might want a simple login method that's also strong sure isn't out of line.

While the numbers may not go Acuity's way, ultimately, the idea that biometrics could catch on in quantity is an idea to bear in mind. Soon our passwords and logins might be reduced to a single fingerprint scan, and that's not a half bad idea.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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