As consumer product companies continue to advertise fingerprint-reading and heart beat sensing functionality to the mainstream public, biometric technologies are actively being implemented behind the scenes in a wide range of industries, such as travel, banking and security Well beyond its ability to improve health and unlock mobile devices more quickly, biometrics are being adopted by businesses to increase efficiency, convenience and security.
For example, in an attempt to reduce long lines at customs and check-in, and create a more reliable way to verify identities, major airlines and airports are rolling out fingerprint scanning as a way to replace the traditional boarding pass and improve efficiency at customs. One of the most widespread examples is the US-VISIT program, which collects both digital fingerprints and pictures from foreign passport holders. Biometrics have been used even longer in banking to give citizens in developing countries access to their finances despite language barriers and low literacy rates. Rather than using a keypad with numbers and letters, in some countries, banks implemented fingerprint scanning on ATMs to increase accessibility. This technology, while not new itself, is now being deployed in the travel industry to increase security and convenience.
As evidenced by these broad applications, biometrics are primed to become even more consumer-facing with time. As consumers grow more comfortable with biometrics to improve their exercise or sleep routines, industries that plan to make drastic changes to their systems, such as air travel, must start building consumer trust now. In general, consumers are largely aware of the penetrability of these technologies from a security standpoint. Fingerprint scans are relatively easy to fool, as fraudsters have used prosthetic silicone digits and even Play-Dough with imprints of lifted fingerprints to bypass these systems. Also, with highly publicized data breaches making headlines on a seemingly regular basis, consumers may not be willing to give up their fingerprints for submission into a company’s database. The potential result: a major investment by industry, but significant pushback from customers who feel that the new approach is an invasion of privacy.
Businesses will have to earn the trust of the general public in order for biometrics to become ubiquitous. A Boxever survey covering consumer sentiment about the way their personal data is being used in the travel industry uncovered some disturbing trends which suggest that companies have a long way to go to earn consumer trust:
- 62% of travelers don’t want brands tracking their location.
- 50% of travelers don’t want to share their personal information.
The main reason: a lack of value and trust.
Before jumping to implement the latest and greatest biometric technology, brands have to make sure that the customer will be on board. The reality is that today, a major gap exists between companies and consumers around the use of personal data. By using the data they already collect to make everything about value and create better experiences, in time, customers will be more willing to give personal information for the sake of increased convenience or security. Beyond taking measures to make sure that customer data is secure and confidential, brands will earn trust by being transparent with how their customer intelligence data is being used and why it’s being collected. Ultimately, if companies are utilizing information – whether it’s geolocation, fingerprints, or iris patterns – to better the customer experience and enhance security, they will be successful in earning the trust of their customers.