Consumerscope: Are Consumers Ready for Biometric Technologies?
When was the last time you hesitated to use your thumb print to unlock your device? Or second-guessed making an online purchase? Or what about wondering how your photo got tagged automatically on Facebook? Your singular response to above questions is most likely, ‘When I experienced it the first time.’ A recent CTA study, Biometric Technologies: Understanding Consumer Sentiments, confirms just that—consumers who have used biometric technologies in the past are more comfortable and accepting of biometrics use across different scenarios. The study found the primary concerns about biometric technologies were how the data will be used and how secure the information is with the organization collecting and managing it.
In fact, 42 percent of online U.S. consumers are undecided regarding biometrics use by commercial organizations. Yet, 63 percent of online U.S. consumers are favorable towards the use of biometrics when it is used for altruistic purposes, ranging from medical research to use in devices to support older and/or differently-abled individuals.
CTA’s research draws a few conclusions on how to positively influence this large group of consumers who are on the fence regarding biometrics’ use:
- Convenience as a stand-alone benefit is not good enough: ‘Convenience’ will be a default rationale that most companies will use to get consumer acceptance – assuming that organizations use unobtrusive means to collect and use biometrics to enable superior consumer experience. While it may work magic among a few consumers, others may perceive convenience to be a trivial reason to share something personal, such as their biometric data. Retail organizations should promote accuracy, certainty, safety, security and other convincing reasons in tandem with convenience to gain consumer favorability.
- Credibility, credibility, credibility: The common area of focus to enhance consumers’ perception of credibility is to emphasize safeguards in place surrounding biometrics data collection and storage. Consumers question how secure their personal biometric information (e.g., fingerprints or facial pattern) is, but are also skeptical about how companies will use the information. ‘Benefit to self’ is important to encourage consumer adoption. Some consumers believe their biometric information is used for commercial benefits only – to inform targeted marketing campaigns – which holds little value to them. Retail organizations should consider stronger value propositions, such as saving money or enhanced security, to encourage adoption and build credibility among consumers.
- Offer use of biometrics as an option in addition to traditional identification processes: More than half of U.S. adults claim they have not experienced biometrics technology. Again, CTA’s research also found that those who have experienced biometrics are more favorable to using biometrics. Biometrics are novel and fun for unlocking your smartphone, but easing consumers into more advanced use cases by providing both biometric and traditional authentication options is a good strategy. Some examples are at point of sale, while swiping a credit card, using a chip reader or using mobile payment options.
Like many other emerging technologies, consumer acceptance of biometric technologies will undoubtedly improve, as consumers’ knowledge of their benefits grows.
The full report, Biometric Technologies: Understanding Consumer Sentiments, is free to CTA members.