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How Do Consumers Feel About Biometrics?

More retailers are investing in biometrics, including behavioral tracking and facial and voice recognition to not only improve store security—and potentially catch shoplifters—but to also target consumers with promotional content.

Luckily for them, more consumers are beginning to use biometrics in large part because many personal electronic devices ship with built-in biometric authentication.

An analysis by research firm TrendForce expected that 60% of the world’s 1.53 billion smartphones to ship worldwide would come with fingerprint sensors in 2018, up from 19% in 2014.

Another forecast from Counterpoint Technology Market Research predicted that 64% of smartphones worldwide would ship with facial recognition technology by 2020, up from just 23% in 2018.

Consumer use remains basic, though. According to a report published in May 2018 by the University of Texas, the highest percentage of US consumers who used biometric authentication used it to unlock personal electronic devices. Fewer respondents used it to log in to bank accounts, buy items online and access various apps and services.

Many see biometric identification as easier and more convenient than passwords or PINs but are increasingly concerned about digital privacy and security. They’re much more comfortable with biometrics systems that use personal information to keep them safe than they are with those that collect data for marketing.

“By building biometric authentication into some of their most popular products like smartphones and laptops, big tech companies are helping consumers become more comfortable with the technology," said Victoria Petrock, eMarketer principal analyst and author of our latest report, "Biometric Marketing 2019: Revolutionary Personalization Tool or Targeting Gone Awry?"

"At the same time, they’re searching for ways to use all of this biometric data in the future," she said. "Though there are major concerns about privacy and data security, it’s only going to be a matter of time before people use their fingerprints, faces, eyes and other body scans to verify who they are and pay for more things.”

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