Biometrics Matter More than Ever Before: 12th Annual FindBiometrics Year in Review

For the past 12 years, the FindBiometrics Team has been proud to give our readers a look back on the past twelve months in biometrics and identity technology, collecting opinions from the most important figures in the industry.

This year, more than ever before, biometrics have gained mainstream attention and received real deployments that affect more than just those of us who live and breathe the industry. If 2013 was the year that biometrics first became a mainstream technology, then 2014 was the year we started to see exactly what that means for the world at large. As such, for the first time ever, FindBiometrics has expanded the sample of our year in review survey. This year we have reached out not just to vendors and biometric organizations, but also to important figures who adopt biometric technology and use it on a daily basis.

Welcome to the 2014 FindBiometrics Year in Review

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The Sample

Thanks to the growing number of professionals who are becoming influential in the biometric markets, this year we have more than doubled the sample size of the Year in Review survey. This year over 150 people from around the world who can be considered experts in biometrics took the time to let us know what they thought were the most important aspects of identity management in 2014.

The survey collected data on four questions involving the state of the biometrics industry and included space for the user to let us know who they were and where they are coming from. We took care to ensure that the sample reached vendors, consortia and leaders in each of the major biometric verticals so that our data can properly represent the diversity of the current identity management industry.

What follows are graphs depicting the collected data with a brief analysis of what it means. In January, we will be taking a closer look at the survey results, question by question, so be sure to stay posted to FindBiometrics in 2015.

1. What was the hottest space in identity management this year? (ranked answers from 1-3 in order of interest)

YIR Q1

There should be no surprise here, that mobile payments has run away as the hottest space in identity management this year. Starting in February with the news out of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, that PayPal would be allowing users to authenticate mobile payment transactions via the Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint sensor, a week hasn’t gone by without mCommerce making the news. Apple Pay launched in the fall, and Alipay also embraced biometric payments through Android smartphones. Fast forward to right now and we’re eagerly awaiting further rollout of the biometric MasterCard and vital biometric payments from Nymi.

The second and third most popular answers are much closer together. Border control markets were very exciting for our readers, and indeed, they were in the conversation all year with early 2014 reports that the global market for automated border control solutions is on the rise dramatically. Closely following behind is the “killing the password” category, which has been a driving motivation for many organizations and biometric tech developers.

Along with the continued high profile security breaches, like the current Sony fiasco causing theaters across America to pull a movie on the demands of hacker terrorists, the FIDO Alliance only just recently made history by publishing the final 1.0 drafts of its two strong authentication specifications.

2. Which vertical markets are you most excited for in 2015? (ranked top three choices)

YIR Q2

Again, here we see that thanks to the momentum that’s been building all year in mobile payments, there is still quite a bit of excitement in regards to the business of buying with biometrics. In a related, but distinctly different area, banking takes up the second place spot for most exciting vertical in 2015.

The application of biometrics to banking services, as has been explored in an interview on our sister site with BIO-Key’s Jay Meier, is something that requires a slower process of rolling out. Where there are biometric payment solutions in the hands of millions already, banking has been slower because interbank transactions carry a very high risk profile. That said, partnerships between biometrics companies and financial institutions that were announced this year, in addition to successful banking pilot projects, are a great reason to get excited about biometric banking in 2015.

Though border control is distinctly the third most popular first choice, other verticals start to catch up with it when we look at the rest of the data. With the exception of the education market – and smart cards to a slightly lesser extent – the graph displays a broad range of excitement in 2015. With the financial verticals on top, followed by border control, healthcare and government applications, and with the rest rounding out the year.

3. Which of the following are the biggest challenges faced by the identity management industry? (Ranked top three)

YIR Q3

 

 

Privacy concerns and educating the public on the use of biometric technology are neck and neck for the title of 2014’s biggest identity management industry challenge. It makes sense, since a general lack of understanding on how biometric technologies work has become a major obstacle in properly discussing the real privacy concerns that need to be addressed in our industry. In some cases, as we have seen this year most notably with Florida banning the collection of student biometrics, the lack of education stokes irrational privacy concerns while distracting from the very real issues that need to be discussed in regards to mobility and passive identification modalities like facial or voiceprint recognition.

To readers of FindBiometrics, the fact that privacy is the number one industry challenge should come as no surprise. This year we are proud to have facilitated  the most important conversations in regards to privacy and identity management. Our September webinar on the topic was the starting point, bringing the IBIA and ACLU together for the first time in conversation about this industry challenge. As part of our second annual Biometrics UnPlugged event in Tampa we made sure to have the Electronic Frontier Foundation participating in the formative industry talks on privacy.

In third place for industry challenges we have the establishing of policies and standards that can help prevent the abuse of biometric technology. The development of anti-spoofing solutions and finding a niche in which to serve an increasingly multi-modal biometric landscape are also issues on people’s radars though seem to be less of a concern.

Meanwhile the friction between on-device and cloud based authentication seems to be much less of a concern, though it is still registering. There may be a larger divide in this category, as the issue about on-device versus authentication in the cloud is a divisive one.

4. In your opinion, how important were the following biometrics industry events in 2014?

 

Finance takes the back seat in terms of the biggest defining news events here, as for the second year in a row mobility takes center stage. The industry experts that took our survey definitively chose fingerprint sensors becoming standard on mobile devices as the biggest industry event in 2014.

In second place we have the launch of Apple Pay, Apple’s biometrically protected mobile wallet application for the new iPhone models. In addition to marking an unprecedented support for biometric payments from the major credit cards and financial institutions that enable the service, Apple Pay sufficiently answers the question on many people’s minds after last year’s initial launch of Touch ID: “So, what exactly can it do?”

After those first two, things become a little less clear cut. The predicted boom in border control was popular as was the announcement that the FBI’s Next Generation Identification program became fully operational. One of the more interesting results was the popularity of the convergence of Big Data, the cloud and biometric software – something that was not incredibly present in the news but is clearly on the minds of industry professionals and a topic that was present at come of 2014’s major industry conferences.

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Stay posted to FindBiometrics in the New Year as we take a closer look at each of these data sets and kick off 2015 with a celebration of our dynamic and exciting industry. Have something to add? Follow us on Twitter and tweet with the hashtag #FBYearInReview.

December 18, 2014 – The FindBiometrics Team