Software-based biometrics to fuel smartphone payment growth

The rise of software-based biometric security will fuel the growth of smartphone mobile payments across all market segments as devices become less reliant on hardware-based authentication such as fingerprints.

That’s according to Juniper Research, which believes the number of smartphone users using software-based biometrics will rise from 429 million in 2018 to more than 1.5 billion in 2023.

Devices such as the iPhone with its TouchID sensor have popularised the concept of biometric security, but recent advances have seen the iPhone X use facial recognition technology to let users make payments or access their device, while other handsets use iris scanning to perform the same task.

Mobile payment growth

And because these features use standard components rather than proprietary hardware, it allows cheaper handsets to take advantage too.

The impact could be significant, with Juniper predicting that biometrically-authenticated transactions will rise by an average of 76 per cent per year. Asia will be the biggest growth market, with North America growing by just 46 per cent.

“Mobile payment security will broaden hugely thanks to the implementation of pure software solutions,” said Juniper Research analyst James Moar. “The key battle now will be to convince users, particularly those in Europe and North America, that these methods are just as secure as traditional hardware-based security.”

But this in no way means the fingerprint sensor will go the same way as the alphanumeric keypad as in 2023, it is claimed 4.5 billion smartphones will still use fingerprint biometrics. However, fingerprint sensors will be just one of several biometric authentication methods rather than the default option.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.