Canadians are Ready to Ditch Passwords and PINs for Biometrics

Canadians are more open than ever to using themselves as a password.

A new Visa survey explored how open Canadians are to new biometric systems that let identities be confirmed faster and with more security. Biometric authentication—whether it be in the form of a fingerprint, face, or voice recognition—can make unlocking accounts and payments easier than ever. It is more convenient than normal PINs and passwords as well, which can be stolen or forgotten.

“Advances in mobile device technology is increasing the speed and accuracy of biometrics, such that they can be used for financial transactions,” said Gord Jamieson, head of risk Services at Visa Canada. “This makes it the ideal time to integrate biometric technology into payments experiences for customers.”

The new Visa study was conducted by AYTM Market Research and asked 1,000 Canadians varying questions about their use of and familiarity with various kinds of biometrics. It seems that many in the country like the thought as 85 per cent said they were interested in using biometrics to verify identity or make payments. Six out of 10 are already familiar with biometrics.

There are some distinct benefits to using biometrics to verify and login to different kinds of platforms and services. Canadians cite the elimination of multiple passwords and increased security as major factors, while only six per cent of those surveyed think there are no distinct benefits to biometrics.

There is still some concern about the further implementation of biometrics though. As the chart below illustrates, the biggest negative aspects include potential leaks of sensitive information and prohibitive costs relating to biometric-enabled devices.

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Top concerns of using biometric authentication for payments.

Still though, in terms of how secure biometrics can be, fingerprints, eye scans and facial recognition all place higher than PINs, two-factor authentication and passwords when it comes to security. Right at the bottom in terms of security is the good ol’ John Hancock—so maybe think twice about autographing that suspicious guy on the corner’s blank piece of paper.

Fingerprint recognition is the most familiar biometric, most likely due to its widespread adoption by phone companies. After that is eye scans, facial recognition, and voice recognition. Other forms of biometrics include vein pattern recognition and behavioural biometrics.

Fewer than one-third of consumers use unique passwords for each of their accounts, which means using biometrics to login will improve security vastly. It could even lead to more e-commerce, as 32 per cent of Canadians reported abandoning an online purchase because they could not remember their password.

Biometrics are most often used in phones and personal devices, but many Canadians believe the best use of the technology is in banking and credit/debit card protection. Biometrics have not made the jump to the financial and e-commerce world too much yet, but if this survey is any indication, they will make an impact as soon as they become widespread.

Check out Visa’s full study on biometrics in Canada here.