News & Views - Savantor

Smartphone fingerprint authentication

Tuesday, 09 September 2014
The options being offered by payment institutions and apps for identity verification seem to expand each month. This month alone we have seen further potential for biometrics (including heartbeat biometrics) as well as wearables. One of the most significant recent developments is the start of an uptake in Apple's Touch ID platform, which enables users of iPhone 5 and above to authenticate simply by placing their finger on their smartphone's 'home' button. However, according to IDC, Apple iPhones accounted for just 11.7% of smartphone shipments worldwide in Q2 2014 and has an average sale price of over $600. Android smartphones are getting this capability too with the FIDO initiative backed by, among others, PayPal. With its near 85% market share (although the vast majority of Android handsets for sale will not be able to support FIDO at this point), it looks like fingerprint authentication is on its way to the smartphone mainstream. This is good news for consumers – fingerprint authentication is already established as a means of user authentication – and providers alike. The industry needs standards and a wide range of app-specific biometric options offers little to the market or to consumer confidence. iPhones will likely remain premium devices in years to come, but as the base hardware continues to become more powerful in Android smartphones, FIDO's open standard could well become the de-facto user authentication method for payments in the not too distant future and not just on smartphones. Fingerprint authentication is clearly a much better fit with a mobile device than PINs and passwords.
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