The use of fingerprint authentication on smartphones has surged. As of mid-2017, 28 per cent of all smartphone owners aged 16-75 used fingerprint recognition for at least one application, a third higher than last year. 36 per cent of smartphones now incorporate a fingerprint reader, of which 79 per cent are used. A year ago, 27 per cent of smartphones had a fingerprint reader and 76 per cent were used, equivalent to a fifth of all smartphones.
Among those using fingerprint sensors on a smartphone, the most common application was to unlock the phone. The second most common application was to log into apps (used by 44 per cent).
Just over a third (35 per cent) of fingerprint reader users deploy this sensor to effect transactions. This is equivalent to about 10 per cent of all smartphone owners. As mobile commerce grows, fingerprint authentication is likely to be increasingly used as an alternative to entering address and credit card details. We would also expect more vendors to enable fingerprint-based authentication of transactions within apps and from web pages.
The significant increase in usage of fingerprint recognition has not been matched – at least this year – by other biometric authenticators. Usage of voice, facial and iris recognition on smartphones remained very low as of mid-2017, with little year-on-year change. Reported usage of voice as an authenticator remained at two per cent of smartphone users, with just one per cent using face or iris recognition.
Overall, the proportion of smartphone owners using some form of authentication, including a PIN or password, increased to 76 per cent, a six percentage point year-on-year increase. We would expect this proportion to rise over time, as the smartphone is used to handle an increasingly diverse range of applications (including tax returns or voting).
As the quality of biometric recognition improves, usage is likely to increase and a growing number of business and government applications are likely to incorporate biometrics to authenticate people. This should enable the smartphone to serve increasingly as a substitute for physical identifiers. The smartphone is already acting as a substitute digital credit card, boarding pass, travel pass, theatre ticket and a key to houses, hotel rooms and cars.
Over the next few years, it may become the repository for a wider range of identity cards, from the office access pass, to the driving licence and even a passport.
Fingerprint recognition as a method of authentication has increased by 7% over the last year.
Among all shopping related activities, browsing a shopping website/app is the most popular on a smartphone.