Financial and ID Technologies

Fingerprint biometric technologies hammered by COVID-19

20 October 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries into lockdown over the past six months with mandated social distancing becoming the global norm. By limiting contact with others and high-risk surfaces, contact biometrics such as fingerprint technologies are taking a huge hit.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, biometric device revenues are expected to drop 22%, or $1.8 billion, to $6.6 billion this year, according to new data from ABI Research. However, the overall biometrics market is expected to rebound in 2021 and continue to grow to reach $40 billion by 2025.

The decline in biometrics is due to three causes. First, economic reforms due to COVID-19 forced governments to constrain budgets and focus on damage control, personnel well-being and operational efficiency. Governments had to delay or cancel fingerprint-based applications related to physical access control, patient registration and on-premise workforce management as well as border control, welfare, immigration, law enforcement and prisons.

Second, commercial on-premise applications and access control suffered due to remote workers becoming the norm in the first half of 2020. Finally, hygiene concerns regarding contact-based fingerprint technologies have caused a deep drop in fingerprint shipments worldwide.

New use cases

ABI said that new use cases are emerging that will help swing the market back to growth such as enterprise mobility and logical access control using biometrics as part of multi-factor authentication (MFA) for remote workers.

“Current MFA applications for remote workers might well translate into permanent information technology security authentication measures in the long term,” said Dimitrios Pavlakis, digital security industry analyst at ABI. “This will improve biometrics-as-a-service (BaaS) monetization and authentication models down the line.”

Additionally, smart city infrastructure investments will require additional surveillance, real-time behavioral analytics and face recognition for research, monitoring and emergency response endeavors.

The full research can be found in ABI’s Biometric Technologies and Applications report.

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