insights and news

Moving on from Passwords

2 August 2020

Passwords have been around in one form or another since ancient times, spoken words to allow passage. But the first time a password was used to login to a computer was in 1961, for a computer system at MIT. We have come a long way, from that first time to an age where usernames and passwords are used daily to access our information, accounts, and devices. Today we find ourselves at the next stage, the rise of biometric authentication.

The use of Biometric data as authentication.

While the origins of biometric data use lay in criminal investigations, authorities used fingerprints to identify suspects of crimes. Nowadays it had become an important aspect of our daily lives. When biometrics is mentioned it does not just mean fingerprints, but it’s also, iris scan, voice print/recognition, palm scan, brain waves, heart signals, DNA identification, and behavior biometrics. With the surge of biometric data available has led to an increase in the number of applications for its use as well as creating an industry that builds the devices to collect and solutions to store all the data securely.

Not surprisingly the first aspect that biometric technology has enhanced is security. The rise of biometric authentication has meant that the use and dependence on passwords has already started to decline. With biometrics offering a superior level of security than can be provided by passwords alone, it’s not difficult to see why. Human biometrics cannot be replicated or forgotten which offers convenience that consumers look for. Combined with industry trends that have led consumer device manufacturers investing in developing and installing biometric sensors and 

readers into their devices, makes the use of biometric authentication more easily accessible.

Why are we choosing Biometric data over passwords?

Research has also shown that people struggle with remembering different passwords and pins. This tends to create inconvenience and delay in gaining access to accounts and in turn leading to frustration. Which can explain the research that has shown a significant number of people use the same passwords for different accounts and logins, from online banking, online retailers to social media end emails. With research showing that even today, with all the information available to consumers regarding login/account security, the number one password in use is ‘123456’. This will create convenience for the individual but will also leave them more vulnerable to fraud. If one account is compromised this increases the potential that further sensitive information can be obtained. The risks are possessed from password-stealing software, which can harvest autofill data, credit card numbers, saved passwords, and other sensitive information stored in people’s web browsers. This not only causes issues for the individual but is costing businesses and institutions time and money. It’s much more difficult to steal biometric data, which makes it a more secure option for use as proof of identity.

The finance sector has already heavily adopted the use of biometrics in a multi-level authentication for its customers, creating a more secure and easier to implement a verification system. Already the banks who have implemented the use of voice biometric verification estimate millions of pounds have been prevented from falling into the hands of criminals through banking fraud.

What does the future Hold for passwords?


It’s premature to say that passwords will disappear entirely anytime soon. What is changing is that passwords will no longer be the main authentication method. Consumers look for convenience but that has to be balanced with the need for data to be secure.  To have higher security for consumers’ accounts and data there is a need to have Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) methods. MFA uses different forms of verification in unison with each other, for example using a pin with fingerprint verification.

The other factor of using biometric is the level of confidence that consumers have. Paysafe’s recent research shows that COVID-19 has made a significant impact on views of the security of online payments. 41% said they trusted manual passwords more than biometrics. So as business develop their online platforms it’s crucial to continue to educate and inform consumers of the benefits of biometrics.