Mobile Month: Biometrics at MWC

IMG_7446-1300x866March is Mobile Month at FindBiometrics and to kick it off we’re taking a look at the biggest event in mobility happening this week in Barcelona, Spain: Mobile World Congress 2015. FindBiometrics is on location at the event with our sister site Mobile ID World, getting the scoop on all the strong authentication and identity management news. Today we’re going to take a look at how mobile biometrics technology has increased its presence at MWC this year and what that means for consumer-facing identity markets in the near future.

Days Gone By

Biometric CommerceLast year MWC was a landmark event with the first deployment of FIDO Alliance specifications in biometric mCommerce. Mobile World Congress has become the expected time for Samsung to unveil new flagship handsets and in 2014 that meant we were introduced to the Galaxy S5 with its PayPal supported fingerprint swipe sensor. While there are two camps on the subject of whether it was the Samsung/PayPal functionality or Apple Pay that so popularized biometric mobile payments, there can be no denying the importance of the first to the scene. Biometric payments on a tier one smartphone – that was the big identity management news from last year’s congress.

But that’s not to say that was the extent of biometrics at last year’s event. Both AGNITiO and ImageWare systems were recognized by Envisioneering at MWC 2014’s Showstoppers event, Morpho (Safran) launched its multi-modal MorphoTablet and BIO-key demonstrated multifactor authentication with partner InterDigital.

The links below will give you a good look at how biometrics fit into last year’s Mobile World Congress:

MWC 2014: BIO-key and InterDigital to Demonstrate Multifactor Android Authentication

MWC 2014: ImageWare Recognized For Innovation and Design By Envisioneering at Showstoppers

MWC 2014: PayPal Is First Global Payment Company To Support Galaxy S5 Biometrics

MWC 2014: Multifunction Biometric Tablet Launched by Morpho (Safran)

MWC 2014: AGNITiO Recognized by Envisioneering For KIVOX Mobile SDK

The Year That Is

unsplash_525f012329589_1We still have a full day left of this year’s Mobile World Congress and already we’ve seen a  dramatic increase in the biometric presence in Barcelona. Once again, Samsung has chosen to unveil its new flagship phone, which sports an upgraded fingerprint sensor, and this year the payments aspect of the Android device has also been expanded. The company’s recent acquisition of LoopPay has enabled Samsung to launch its Apple Pay competitor: Samsung Pay.

If that’s not already enough (a competing biometric wallet is very huge news in consumer-facing identity management), a number of other new handsets launched over the past few days featuring biometric security. ZTE’s new smartphone will be shipping with built-in EyeVerify security, Fujitsu has demonstrated iris recognition on a smartphone and and the newly introduced Cyberphone is boasting military grade fingerprint recognition.

Going even further into the field of biometrics, BIO-key is once again demonstrating multi-factor security with InterDigital, this year focusing heavily on flexibility between authentication in the cloud and on-device. Sensory has addressed the need for security in the Internet of Things, AirWatch has fully integrated EyeVerify into its platform and Cypress introduced a new fingerprint reader that came out of its partnership with IDEX.

Here are just some of the ways that we’ve been talking about biometrics at MWC 2015:

MWC 2015: Samsung S6 has the Curves, Plays the Angles

Synopsis and Sensory Unveil Ultra-Low Power Voice Recognition for IoT

MWC 2015: New Cyberphone Offers “Military-Grade Security”

MWC 2015: EyeVerify to Fully Integrate Tech into AirWatch Platform

MWC 2015: Cypress Debuts Fruits of IDEX ASA Partnership

MWC 2015: Fujitsu Demonstrates Delta ID Iris Scanning Solution

MWC 2015: BIO-key Demonstrates Mobile Multifactor Authentication

ZTE Incorporates EyeVerify Biometrics into Flagship Device

Where Things Are Going

MWC 2015In the opening keynote of Mobile World Congress, Jon Fredrik Baksaas, the chairman of the GSMA spoke on the importance of digital identity in the mobile industry moving forward. The mobile industry, specifically when it came to smartphones, recently made big strides in making connected handsets accessible. With this accessibility comes new opportunities for digital identity management and strong authentication, and Baksaas stated that the handset and the SIM provide a perfect platform for the next generation of identification, privacy and security.

Presentations from Google and Facebook have also highlighted further initiatives to bring connectivity to the underserved masses of the world. Keynotes on Project Balloon and have made it clear that some of the biggest names online are endeavoring to connect even more people worldwide. Where there is connectivity, there is opportunity for better convenience, better security and strong identity.

Finally, a new report from MasterCard on the state of mCommerce that was released at MWC 2015 underlined the fact that consumers care most about convenience when it comes to their mobile payments. Combined with the above talk of connection and digital idenity and what we have is an encouraging picture of the near future: increasingly connected global population with a high demand for digital identity and who care most about convenience.

Here are the links for more in depth conversations about how MWC has us looking at the future of consumer identity management:

MWC 2015: Mobile Identity on Day One

MWC 2015: Day 2 – Accessibility and The Connected Globe

MWC 2015: MasterCard Study Finds Consumers Continue to Warm to Mobile Payment


Stay posted to FindBiometrics throughout March as we continue to look at mobile biometrics beyond Mobile World Congress. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tweet using the hashtag #FBMobileMonth to be part of the conversation. Check out Mobile ID World for continuing coverage straight from Barcelona.

March 4, 2015 – by Peter B. Counter