Digital Identity Spotlight: Is Biometric Authentication the Death of the Password?

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Blogs, Data Analytics, Digital Identity, Government, Legal Innovation, Thomson Reuters

digital identity

No one remembers every password to every website. But according to a new article by Jennifer Singh, Senior Director in Strategic Product Management for Thomson Reuters, advances in biometric authentication mean soon, we may not have to.

Digital commerce is disrupting traditional businesses because of the convenience it provides.  We can purchase, transact and communicate online, all without leaving our homes. And yet, we all still experience some degree of frustration when transacting online, particularly due to poor digital customer experience.  The biggest complaints: Continuously needing to prove our identity credentials and managing our passwords.

A recent poll conducted by Intel Security found the average person has 27 discrete online logins, which is a lot of passwords to remember.  In fact, 37% of people forget a password at least once a week, which leads to frustration, password resets and sometimes abandonment.  This is a headache for businesses, too, because they have to bear the customer service cost of password resets and associated revenue losses from abandonment. Passwords, particularly insecure passwords, can also be a security risk subject to criminal hacking.


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To balance security with convenience, enterprises are rethinking digital identity. The forerunners are leveraging advanced technologies like biometric authentication to provide a seamless experience for their customers.

What is Biometric Authentication?

Biometric authentication uses unique physical attributes and body measurements as a method for identification and access control. Physical characteristics that are often used for authentication include fingerprints, palm prints, voice recognition, face recognition and iris scans, because these are unique to every individual. Service providers are using biometric authentication to reduce access friction because it’s much faster and more seamless for a customer to use his or her biometrics than it is to remember and type a password.

Mobile devices, including both iPhone and Android devices, have spurred the adoption of biometric authentication.  According to a Deloitte survey, 28% of UK smartphone users have used fingerprint recognition, up about 33% since last year.  While adoption of other biometric authenticators is still low, the recent release of Face ID on the iPhone X is expected to spur adoption of other modalities.

Another example of increasing biometric authentication adoption is across airports around the world.  CLEAR, at select United States airports, is a faster alternative to TSA PreCheck for passing through airport security.  A traveler skips having his or her physical ID documentation (drivers license or passport) reviewed by a TSA agent by authenticating with two forms of biometrics and a boarding pass.  This service eliminates the need to carry physical documentation and is a much faster security process.  Airlines like Delta and JetBlue are also experimenting with facial recognition as a replacement for scanning physical boarding passes when boarding a plane.


To read the full article visit the Thomson Reuters’ Answers On blog page.