People 'n' Issues

Biometrics here to stay

November 30th, 2015
Recent reports have shown that the biometrics industry is set to hit $44-billion by 2021, a sure indication that it is here to stay. GREG SARRAIL shares his predictions about biometrics for 2016 and beyond.

According to, the global biometrics market, valued at $US 7 billion in 2014, is predicted to hit $US 44 billion by 2021. This figure includes the leading biometric market segments of border control and government ID systems, workplace access and consumer identity verification.   For many years biometrics has expanding into the enterprise and consumer industries.  With a predicted compound annual growth rate of 13.37% by 2019, biometrics’ time has come and it’s here to stay.

Current adoption and predicted growth rates aren’t surprising.

Biometrics has long since shed its early reputation as being ineffective and inaccurate. Today, the biometrics industry is delivering trusted solutions that are tailored for the enterprise, finance and communications markets. The latest biometrics technologies are able to authenticate people of all ages, ethnicities and skin types.  Even ambient dirt and water have little effect on the result – allowing for a reliable solution that can be easily implemented.

Providing new levels of biometric accuracy has enabled a marked shift in biometrics adoption and development globally.  From simple smartphone access to solutions that secure ATMs or network resources, biometrics is starting to play a role in each of our lives by providing seamless authentication.  New offerings from MasterCard and VISA include a facial recognition payment service and standards to support the use of biometrics. While biometric authentication solutions commonly use a fingerprint, voice or a face, innovations continue to expand the possibilities through the use of a person’s other unique characteristics such as gait, a wave of a hand, even the rhythm associated with typing of a keyboard.

There are many possibilities and the biometrics industry has only scratched the surface. I predict that there will be a surge in commercial biometric solutions for banks, governments and healthcare and in inventive biometrically-enabled gadgets. Biometrics offerings will be tailored to the risk profile of each unique application, providing the appropriate level of security to the authentication process and simplifying access by legitimate users to devices and systems.  As organisations look to protect their data, regulations such as POPI help to make biometrics become far more prevalent in the corporate space in South Africa. And with the new Smart ID card, biometrics will become the ultimate in trusted identity verification.

* Greg Sarrail, VP Solutions Business Development, Biometrics, at HID Global

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