LONDON: Payment security on mobile devices is a growing issue, as smartphone usage booms and many people fail to protect access to their devices with a personal identification number, but biometric solutions offer a way forward, a leading consultancy has said.

"Protecting the mobile device itself is a first step, necessary to secure mobile payments," said Jean-Noel Georges, Frost & Sullivan Global Program Director, ICT in Financial Services.

A recent Havas Worldwide report noted that security was a lingering concern for most people when shopping online, with a large majority worrying at least occasionally about potential fraud and abuse of privacy.

"The time is now right for biometric technology to emerge as a secure solution for mobile applications that require high levels of security, particularly payment," he declared.

"From a pure-payment security point of view, biometrics has already delivered significant advantages," added Georges.

Frost & Sullivan observed that the existing technologies within mobile devices – headphone, microphone and camera – could be leveraged to create optimal solutions around voice and facial recognition as well as bi-modal authentication.

The need for intuitive customer experiences was stressed and Frost & Sullivan remarked on "a practically effortless payment mechanism" based on a fingerprint reader that connected to a contactless card to verify personal data stored therein.

Georges noted the rumours that the next iPhone could include a fingerprint sensor, a development he said could have "a huge impact on biometric security solutions".

But even if the technologies currently exist, the cost and complexity of integrating them into mobile devices makes a widespread rollout a major challenge, said Frost & Sullivan. In addition, the end user would need time to accept a new way of interacting with their device.

Nonetheless, having to remember PINs is likely to become a thing of the past fairly soon.

"We expect to see biometrics becoming increasingly prevalent over the course of the next three to four years, driven by a desire among vendors and consumers alike to be better protected when accessing mobile services," Georges concluded.

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff