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Passwords may be passé, but biometrics is not yet viable for portable devices

Published 27 April 2010

Passwords may be heading toward extinction, but biometric identification is not yet a viable means of authentication for mobile devices; smart phones and other portable devices do not currently have the sophistication to be adapted easily for biometric technology, and users are likely to be reluctant to carry yet another device and its electrical charger along with their smart phone simply to login to their bank account when not at their desktop computer

Biometric logins that use fingerprints, voice recognition, or identify people by the way they type are not yet a viable option in portable devices like netbooks, palmtop computers, and smart phones. Biometric logins look set to replace conventional passwords for accessing online banking and credit card services, online payment companies and even internet stockbrokers. Smart phones and other portable devices, however, do not currently have the sophistication to be adapted easily for biometric technology.

Moreover, users are likely to be reluctant to carry yet another device and its electrical charger along with their smart phone simply to login to their bank account when not at their desktop computer.

The Economic Times quotes James Pope of the College of Business Administration, University of Toledo, Ohio, and Dieter Bartmann of the University of Regensburg, Germany, to say that the security of online financial transactions is becoming a problem, especially as security loopholes in login systems and web browsers emerge repeatedly. Simply logging in with a password looks set to become technically passé. “Passwords have been widely used because of their simplicity of implementation and use but are now regarded as providing minimal security,” the researchers say.

As repeated scare stories about hacking and identity theft pervade the media, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about online security. Further development of e-commerce and banking will be stifled if the issues of fraud and identity theft are not addressed, a University of Toledo release says.

While biometric readers are being adapted for desktop computers, they are seriously lagging behind in portability and compatibility with smart phones and other mobile computing devices.

The findings were published in the International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing.