Consumers reluctant to swap passwords for biometrics for fear of identity fraud

Over half (53%) of consumers in the UK are worried that the shift towards biometrics for authenticating online payments will dramatically increase the amount of identity fraud. That’s according to new research conducted by Paysafe, the global payments provider. The study found that over three-quarters (79%) of consumers still favour passwords for making payments online due to concerns about the security of new biometric options.

According to the data, two-thirds (68%) of consumers worry about being able to pay for goods or services without being asked for a password, while only 40% believe that biometrics are more secure than other authentication methods.

The Paysafe report, entitled ‘Lost in Transaction: The End of Risk?’, explores consumer attitudes to biometrics prior to the roll-out of Strong Customer Authentication later this year. The annual study tracks changing views on payments across the UK, the US, Canada, Germany and Austria (and this year includes Bulgaria for the first time).

Further fears around biometrics

Those consumers who didn’t feel comfortable using biometrics identified a lack of trust as their primary reason for avoiding them. The research also revealed further fears around the use of biometrics as follows:

*Over a third (36%) stated they didn’t want companies having access to their personal biometric details

*30% didn’t know enough about biometrics to trust it

*Over a quarter (27%) were concerned that their fingerprint could easily be cloned and used to commit fraud

*29% said biometrics didn’t seem safe

Commenting on the research, Daniel Kornitzer (chief business development officer at the Paysafe Group) said: “Biometrics are a huge opportunity for the payments industry to combat the increasing risk of Card Not Present fraud. However, it’s not surprising that there’s reluctance among consumers to use biometrics as a form of payment authentication when passwords and PINs have been the central pillar of financial data security for at least 20 years. News headlines are also dominated with fraud and hacking scandals so the public are aware of the risks involved when it comes to adopting new services. To overcome this, consumer education is imperative and, with Strong Customer Authentication coming in September, consumers will need to be aware of the benefits to ensure acceptance and adoption. We’ve lived in a password-driven world for many years now and consumers are not fully prepared to let go of what they know.”

Adoption continues to grow

Despite the worries over biometric transactions, adoption continues to grow with more than half (54%) of British consumers having used biometrics to make a payment. Over half (62%) of consumers in the UK also agree that using biometrics is a much quicker and efficient way of paying for goods and services.

When asked what biometrics they had used, fingerprint technology was the most commonly used biometric (42%) followed by one-in-six (17%) having used facial recognition and one-in-ten (12%) voice-activated technologies.

Kornitzer added: “Consumer acceptance of biometrics is being driven largely by smart phone usage and adoption, and this will only increase. However, payment providers will need to do their bit to make sure that consumers are on board with the change. Ultimately, Strong Customer Authentication should lead to smoother and more secure payments. In other words, a win for businesses and consumers alike.”

*To read the Paysafe report in full visit

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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