Finger on the Pulse! Waving goodbye to a big year for biometrics

  • Lina Andolf-Orup, Senior Director, Head of Global Marketing at Fingerprints

  • 15.01.2020 10:30 am
  • undisclosed

After years of predictions and goals set for “2020”, it feels quite surreal to have finally welcomed in the year that once felt so futuristic. And what a pivotal decade the “teens” have been for the world of biometrics!

But before we share our 2 cents on the predictions for the year, we shouldn’t overlook the busy and successful end to 2019 the industry has had, as well as the major highlights of the last year.

Ending the year on a high

Consumers get first biometric payment cards

It’s been a big year for biometric payment cards, but the announcement of the first commercial launch in November made sure 2019 ended on a high. The exclusive Swiss Corner Bank biometric credit card launch is limited to 100 customers, but the announcement marks the first of many more of these cards that will reach the hands of consumers in 2020… In fact, the start of the new year continued strong, with Thales announcing they are the first company to offer a certified biometric card, and with Fingerprints passing an important biometric performance test for payments in China.

New payment form factors move to biometrics

Japan’s leading payment network, JCB, showed cards aren’t the only way fingerprint biometrics are securing payments with the launch of its new contactless payment device. In addition to contactless payments, the device can be used for other personal authentication applications such as event tickets or car sharing programs.

The more the merrier!

Multi-modal biometric solutions are rapidly gaining popularity to strengthen security and improve UX. In October, Fingerprints did just that, responding to rising demand from smartphone and IoT OEMS by combining the convenience of face recognition with the security of iris.

Appetite for fingerprint in mobile continues to grow

Continuous R&D has enabled capacitive sensors to remain at the cutting edge in the smartphone market. The launch of a new side-mounted slim sensor, and its integration into Xiaomi’s new 5G phone in December, was a perfect testament to this. The sensor, which also functions as the power button, is enabling a new wave of design-first borderless and foldable phones.

Differentiation in the smartphone world is becoming increasingly challenging. For this reason, design is one of the key battle grounds as OEMs strive towards edgeless / bezel-less / notched / foldable devices. Biometric innovation is actually running in parallel and driving much of the innovation, as reflected in our recent blog article.

Lock, lock…who’s there?

Q4 also saw the market responding to demands from new industries with the launch of an all-in-one sensor module for access control solutions and just one week into the new year 2020 we are welcoming two new sensors to our access portfolio. The need for more seamless and secure access to devices and applications to unlock, enter and open our increasingly connected digital and physical lives. Think smart door locks, FIDO tokens, crypto cold wallets, padlocks…

The launch of Kabuto’s new smart carry-on suitcase in December is a great example – enabling travellers to easily secure their luggage without the need for keys or those easily forgettable passcodes!

2019: The headlines

Not sure what you missed in the last twelve months? Here’s a low-down of the key takeaways…

Biometric payment cards went big

In February, Gemalto placed the first volume order of fingerprint sensors for contactless payment cards to bring a “stronger, faster and more seamless authentication to payment cards”. Later in the year, biometric payment cards were named “the biggest development in card technology in recent years” by UK bank, NatWest, before the technology got a thorough road-test from the BBC.

Fingerprint sensors reached major milestones

In May, Principal Analyst at ABI Research, Phil Sealy, described our news of shipping 1bn fingerprint sensors worldwide as “a major milestone for the company and the industry, demonstrating rapid consumer adoption of biometrics.” In November, Fingerprints also reached another milestone of 400 smartphone models (including all of the top five Android OEMs) integrating its fingerprint capacitive sensors. 

New use cases emerged

A varied range of new devices utilizing biometrics emerged throughout the year, including Feitan’s FIDO-certified AllinPassBeamU’s hardware vault and Spatium’s cryptocurrency wallet. New and adjacent industries will be drivers of growth in biometrics adoption moving forward.

Banks got serious about biometrics

The implementation of PSD2’s SCA requirements in September undoubtedly pushed biometrics higher up Europe’s banking agenda, too. Indeed, our research found that over half of issuers have a biometric strategy today, with 90% of those remaining intending to do so within two years. From cards and wearables, to mobile payments and crypto cold wallets, biometrics can simplify and unify the UX across payments. 

2020 and beyond!    

With change happening so fast, it’s difficult to predict what the next year, let alone the next decade, will bring for the biometrics market, but it’s certainly looking extremely promising.

A recent report from Juniper research predicted biometrics will enable $2.5tn of mobile payments by 2024 – a strong indicator of the continued growth of biometrics in both smartphones and payments! The continuation of design-led smartphones will also see the use of touchless solutions, side-mounted and under-display sensors gain significant traction as a result. 

This year will also see more biometric payment card pilots scaling up to commercial launch, with Crédit Agricole in France just one stating its goal as 2020. With all POS terminals mandated to become contactless this year, the stage is set perfectly for the seamless roll-out of the technology across the globe.

Finally, we’ve started the year with a busy schedule at CES in Las Vegas, getting an insight into how all those predictions about the realization of IoT and connected devices in 2020 are now coming to fruition. The potential of biometrics and its role in these new and adjacent industries is phenomenal. And, excitingly, it’s almost too great to predict…

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