Biometric acceptance driven by speed of ID verification

The convenience of using biometrics for ID verification outweighs any concerns of lax security methods when using smartcards, according to a new survey.

A global survey of consumer attitudes to using biometrics found a 5 percent increase in people who favour the use of biometrics as a preferred method of identity verification. Some 10 percent of individuals in the Asia-Pacific region would even prefer a chip implanted in their body.

The survey, conducted by Unisys, surveyed 1661 people globally, with 12 percent of the respondents in Australia. Convenience, according to 83 percent of respondents, was the main reason for using biometrics on a smartcard and three quarters said speedy verification is the main driver for biometric adoption.

Supporters of biometrics were mainly in the North American region (71 percent) followed by Europe (69 percent) and the Asia-Pacific region including Korea, Taiwan and Japan had approval from 68 percent of respondents.

Terry Hartmann, Unisys director of secure identification and biometrics, said the research is revealing because many people seem to question biometric adoption due to legitimate privacy concerns.

"Despite some geographical and cultural differences with certain specifics of the technologies, overall as more and more people learn about biometrics, convenience seems to outweigh other concerns," Hartmann said.

"Systems developers and owners must address those concerns so that these technologies can move towards the mainstream on a large scale, with appropriate protection and sensitivity."

Frost & Sullivan security analyst James Turner said while speed of identity verification may be driving people's acceptance of biometrics, the key issue is that biometrics can be a security block, rather than an enabler.

Turner added that what is more important in the smartcard debate is ratifying exactly where the identification data is stored.

"A faster and less frustrating security procedure, like using biometrics, would offer less resistance," Turner said.

"Smartcards or national identity cards will go ahead, but we need to talk about implementation, who can access the data and which government department will be in control of the repository, will the government then privatize that group or outsource. We need these issues resolved before we can move forward."

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