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Biometrics Offers The ‘Perfect Balance’ Of Security And Usability

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Biometrics technology has been around for a while, now it’s time to utilise it properly, Intelligent Environments CTO tells TechWeekEurope

Biometric technology has rapidly grown in popularity over the past few years, aided by some high-profile launches such as Apple’s TouchID system and Windows Hello.

The technology is impacting more areas of everyday life, from banking to home security, offering a simple and easy way to authenticate users credentials or make purchases.

But just how secure are these services, and can both businesses and consumers rely on them to provide effective online protection while being easy to use?

Win-win

biometric fingerprint scanningBritish firm Intelligent Environments, says biometric technology is the perfect way of balancing these two key demands.

The company specialises in online and mobile banking services and says security is never far from its mind when its helping businesses.

“In the [conflict] between providing a great buying experience and making sure that this is really secure, biometrics is the way to provide higher security but also a better experience – it’s a win-win, “Intelligent Environments CTO Clayton Locke told TechWeekEurope.

In competitive environments, such as online shopping, it’s important to keep customers happy so they don’t go somewhere else. People are frustrated by delays and can ditch an online basket due to account logins not working, or because of long sign-up processes to complete an order. But biometrics can change all of this.

Locke pointed to the example of buying a car – something most people will have to do at least once in their lifetimes – as a sign of how unnecessarily complex modern commerce can still be.

The process can encompass a surprisingly high number of different forms and factors, he noted, from looking up models and costs online, to visiting a forecourt, to filling out actual psychical paperwork – processes which can often lead you to enter the same information multiple times.

Intelligent Environments is looking to streamline “disjointed” occurrences such as this by promoting open APIs which share biometric information to facilitate much quicker, more accurate and more secure authentication, often just using a fingerprint.

“We see an opportunity,” Locke said. “What’s required is an engagement platform that integrates data across these business silos.”

Looking forward

LockeWhat Intelligent Environments is looking to do is support this engagement platform with the use of a variety of technologies, including biometrics, that make the purchasing experience as a whole quicker and easier for all parties.

Many companies are supportive of this move, but for the public, the thought of submitting information such as fingerprint scans and facial recognition images is still somewhat unnerving.

“Education is important,” Locke said, noting that although the general public is right to be suspicious, the technology is ultimately extremely sound thanks to security protections such as tokenisation.

And the future looks bright, as more and more industries see the benefits of adopting a technology that allows far more secure and reliable access.

“The technology has already been around for a while,” he continued, mentioning the likes of voice recognition systems and iris scanners at airports. However, the fact that we can now carry out such systems on our smartphones is helping to encourage adoption, and the future, Locke says, will depend on how vendors can get these systems on to devices.

“I think (biometrics) will become the norm, but to get it there, it has to be convenient,” Locke said, adding that he believes that in five years’ time the use of biometrics will seem normal, and after 10 it will be ubiquitous, meaning that very soon, passwords as we know it will soon be just a memory.

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