Study: Biometrics Gaining Acceptance among Consumers

The general public may not be as afraid of biometrics as once thought.

A new study from Unisys Corporation indicates that almost 70 percent of surveyed consumers are in support of using biometrics as a way of verifying identity, as long as that verification is conducted by trusted organization.

The Unisys survey also saw 66 percent of respondents favoring biometrics as a method of combating identity theft and fraud; the survey compared biometrics in this category to other credential-type methods, including tokens and smart cards. That percentage of support is slightly up over a September 2005 study by Unisys, which saw 61 percent of surveyed consumers favoring biometrics.

The survey indicated that support for biometrics was strongest in North America (71 percent supporting), followed closely by Europe at 69 percent and the Asian-Pacific region at 68 percent. Latin Americans were the least likely to find favor in biometrics, with only 58 percent in support.

According the Unisys survey, convenience of not having to recall passwords or remember to carry a credential were among the chief reasons consumers were in support of using biometrics.

Voice recognition topped the list of preferred methods, followed by fingerprints, then facial recognition, hand geometry and finally iris scans. According to the researchers, those preferred methods changed from region to region, with North American highly unsupportive of facial scans despite reasonable acceptance of that method in other areas of the world.

The research was conducted by The Ponemon Institute. It received some 1,661 responses (a small number, and one that maybe be difficult from which to generalize greatly, especially when considering this is a worldwide survey). The study ties in with today's simultaneous opening of Unisys' new biometrics Centre of Excellence, located in Brussels. The new biometrics study center (the company also has one in Reston, Va.) will be a place to demonstrate best practices in biometrics and will serve as a showcase facility for such biometrics applications as e-passports, biometrics in healthcare records, law enforcement and other key areas.