Digital Strategy & Innovation

Biometrics: when technology and user experience go hand in hand

One of the most recent technology innovations in the field of Smartphones is biometrics, more precisely the development of biometric systems capable of recognizing people. Currently, the most widespread is fingerprint scanning, but there are other solutions including facial recognition, voice detection and iris scan. In particular, latest generation models, such as the iPhone X and the brand new Samsung S9, consider face recognition one of their strongpoints.

Smartphones with this technology in Italy are 46% of total, according to 2017 year-end comScore data (45% in France, 53% in Germany, 38% in Spain, 58% in UK, and 67% in the USA).

Use of this authentication mode (primarily to unlock the phone, to login, or authorize purchases/payments) provides benefits to both consumers and companies. As regards users, the main advantages are convenient and rapid access to services – very important aspects for consumers using a Smartphone – and on average also of security, compared to other more commonly used authentication methods (as the alphanumeric password). The propensity of Italian Mobile Surfers to use these solutions is, at the moment, quite high: according to research conducted with Doxa within the Mobile B2c Strategy Observatory, about one out of three Mobile Surfers with an enabled Smartphone already uses these solutions either always or often, and an additional 20% uses them sometimes. The reasons why some users don’t adopt them have not been examined in detail; in all likelihood they might be primarily two: a still small number of applications providing this functionality and consumers’ uncertainty towards the level of security.

Confirmation of the first statement comes from the survey on Mobile Apps released by major companies, in terms of revenue in the various sectors, which shows that the Finance sector is the one that has mostly begun adopting such solutions, with about 60% of surveyed Apps enabling authentication through biometrics, while the percentage drops considerably in other industry sectors. The benefits for companies in using these technologies is primarily improve the user experience, which could determine increased access to services, in addition to enhanced customer satisfaction.

As mentioned, the development of such solutions by Smartphone manufacturers is constantly evolving, shifting the competition to advanced hardware and software solutions enabling facial recognition, in particular last generation cameras, new graphic interfaces, 3D sensors and artificial intelligence algorithms on which recognition software is based. These features alone are not likely to drive consumers to purchase the new Smartphones, but they undoubtedly open new interaction frontiers with these devices and towards the development of new services by companies.

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