The global biometrics market is poised to accelerate at an unprecedented pace over the next five years, transforming biometrics as a convenience factor to a foundational security mechanism for mobile smart devices, according to Acuity Market Intelligence, an emerging technology strategy and research consultancy.
Acuity Market Intelligence’s latest research, The Global Biometrics and Mobility Report: The Convergence of Commerce and Privacy, forecasts between 2014 and 2020 nearly 12.9 billion mobile biometric apps will be downloaded to smart mobile devices by 2.2 billion mobile biometric users.
Moreover, Acuity reports that more than 5.4 billion biometric smart device apps will be downloaded in 2020, up from 6.5 million in 2014. In fiveyears, biometrics will become standard on 100 percent of the nearly 3 billion smart mobile devices sold each year.
“As biometrics become standard on smart mobile devices and consumers are increasingly accustomed to relying on biometric security, continually updated, highly secure biometric apps will be downloaded to ensure the highest mobile security standards are maintained,” said Maxine Most, Acuity Market intelligence principal and author of the report.
The report defined a biometrics app as a downloadable software application that provides new biometrics capabilities for a Smart Device, such as smartphone, tablets, and wearables. The app can be purchased by the user or provided free of charge by the service provider or vendor.
Acuity forecasts that mobile biometrics will generate $34.6 billion in annual revenue in 2020. This includes 4.8 billion biometrically enabled smart mobile devices generating $6.2 billion in biometric sensor revenue, 5.4 billion biometric app downloads generating $21.7 billion in annual revenues from direct purchase and software development fees, and 807 billion biometrically secured payment and non-payment transactions generating $6.8 billion in authentication fees.
“Biometrics is at the center of a firestorm of converging market forces driving the digital identity revolution,” Most said. “New and complex relationships between identity, mobility, and commerce are redefining global communication and commerce ecosystems and require frictionless, yet highly reliable security.”
In the wake of the tragic September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, identity came to the forefront of national security. Silicon Valley companies opened offices in Washington, DC to offer their assistance in securing identity in the post-9/11 environment. Since then, biometrics has transformed from a matter of convenience to a hardened security mechanism for mobile devices.
Acuity projects that the expansion of the global biometrics market will spur the evolution of biometrics for convenience to biometrics as crucial to the security of mobile smart devices. By 2017, hardened biometric security on mobile devices will begin to replace “the password as we know it.”
Homeland Security Today recently reported that the dramatic increase in mobile users has raised concerns over the password-only model of security. A recent survey by SecureAuth Corporation noted it’s very difficult for individuals to remember long strings of numbers and strong passwords are insufficient if they are not changed frequently. Consequently, government agencies and commercial organizations are increasingly looking for new ways to improve their cybersecurity posture.
As more financial institutions, retailers, and service providers adopt biometric authentication, apps will become more sophisticated and specialized. Biometric sensors and algorithms will need to be continuously updated to stay ahead of hackers.
“Certification is a much higher standard of biometric performance and reliability,” the report stated. “As biometrics shift from a convenient password and pin alternative to a true security factor, the sensors embedded in consumer mobile devices and the algorithms used to extract and match biometric data will increasingly come closer—and eventually have to meet—this level of certification.”
The explosion of the global biometrics market will not only impact financial institutions and banks, but government agencies, law enforcement, and first responders as well. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is already testing an enhanced mobile device to collect biometric data from a limited number of foreign national air travelers departing the United States at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“This biometric capability has the potential to enhance existing outbound mobile enforcement teams and ensure the departure of a foreign national traveler from the United States through biometric verification,” CBP said in a statement, adding, “After the testing, CBP will analyze the information collected and use the results to help determine future plans for biometric exit.”
As the market for biometrics continues to expand, the report notes that privacy may end up being the “black swan” in the equation. For good or for bad, the massive leak of classified information by notorious former defense contractor Edward Snowden brought the issues of privacy and surveillance to the forefront.
However, although privacy advocates have viewed biometrics with skepticism, an alternate perspective is that biometrics can be used to enhance privacy by blocking government and corporate intrusion into our lives. As biometrics becomes more and more foundational to security, companies like Apple are looking at biometrics as a key enabler of consumer-centric security.
The report noted, however, that “Successfully turning the consumer data monetization business model on its head by redefining consumer expectations of privacy and data ownership and control could represent a significant challenge to core revenue generation for these high tech titans.”
“To maintain market relevance and dominance in a consumer-centric ecosystem, they will be forced to shift their thinking about whom they serve and how,” the report continued.
Acuity predicted consumers will come to rely on biometrics to the point where biometrics will become “simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible.” The company believes that the biometrics industry will know it has succeeded only once biometrics has virtually disappeared, as consumers come to rely on these global platforms and forget what they are.
“The Biometrics industry is at a critical juncture,” the report stated. “The market sits squarely at the crossroads of many powerful market forces that are driving inevitable and potentially radical transformation. It is fascinating that biometrics are sucha lynchpin and yet, if the market is successful in achieving its potential of securing physical and logical access, of facilitating security, of enabling anonymous identification, it will effectively be invisible.”