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Biometrics Replacing Passwords: Prospects and Concerns

With the prevalence of smartphones in everyday life, momentum has been building for the use of biometrics to replace traditional passwords. To date, the most popular biometric authentication is fingerprint technology, followed by facial recognition technology. Less used types of biometrics also include eye-scanning, heartbeats and voice pattern.

One of the main perceived benefits in using biometrics compared with traditional password-entering is that a customers’ unique biometric information is extremely difficult to recreate or reproduce. This is particularly important as data breaches are predominately due to hackers who have leveraged stolen or weak passwords. Accordingly, it is argued that online payment security is one main area which will be enhanced through the use of biometrics.

Notwithstanding the potential benefits of using biometrics, most consumers still view passwords as their security preference with biometrics only serving as a supplementary method. In April 2019, Loudhouse, a research agency based in London, conducted a survey of over 6000 consumers across several countries and found that only 37% of consumers believe that biometrics are more secure than other verification methods. A further 66% of consumers were worried about making purchases without entering passwords.

In concluding the survey, Loudhouse noted that adoption of innovative technology is dependent first on winning the argument over financial safety. Besides consumer reluctance, there has also been reluctance from governments in enabling the use of biometric information. In Australia, similar arguments concerning the safety of the technology have stalled the implementation of proposed legislation that would set up biometric facial recognition services for government agencies despite the apparent benefit of reducing instances of identity theft.

Wendy Li  is a coautor of this article

Copyright 2020 K & L Gates


About this Author

Jim Bulling, KL Gates, financial services lawyer, funds management attorney

Mr. Bulling's practise focuses on banking and financial services and he acts for a range of entities in the financial services and funds management industry. His clients include Australian and international investment managers, banks, trustees of superannuation funds, wholesale and retail investment trusts, funds management companies and financial planning groups.

His main areas of focus include banking and financial product disclosure issues, financial services compliance issues, financial product distribution issues and superannuation and...

Felix Charlesworth, KLGates, Financial attorney

Mr. Charlesworth is a commercial and regulatory lawyer with a focus on the financial services industry.

 Mr. Charlesworth advises on a range of regulatory and compliance issues relevant to wholesale and retail fund managers, financial advisers, superannuation fund trustees and other financial services entities. He also has experience in advising multinational corporations about compliance measures targeted at the prevention of bribery and corruption.