28 Sep 2023
by Gus Tomlinson

Turning tables: the rising trust in biometrics

Guest blog from Gus Tomlinson, Chief Product Officer, Identity and Fraud at GBG.

 The UK is witnessing a rapid industrialisation of fraud and far too many individuals and businesses are having to deal with the devastating impact of unscrupulous fraudsters exploiting any vulnerability they find. In fact, our Global State of Digital Identity 2023 report found that one in seven (14%) of consumers have been a victim of identity fraud in the past year alone and over half (55%) of businesses have suffered fraud attacks in the past year.

A knock-on impact of rising identity fraud we are currently witnessing is that consumer sentiment is now shifting around which attributes people value as integral to representing their personal identity and therefore require protection. More traditional data points, such as data of birth and driver’s license, are decreasing in importance year-on-year, while some other features, in particular biometric data including fingerprints and facial recognition, is increasing. In 2023, half (50%) of consumers now value their biometric data as important, compared to 43% in 2022.

On the up: consumer trust in biometrics

When it comes to the protection of these attributes, unsurprisingly a large majority (74%) of consumers believe businesses should be responsible for protecting their personal information. The good news for businesses is, as well as valuing biometric data as important to them, consumers are also increasing their trust levels in the use of this data for security purposes. In fact, more than nine in 10 (95%) of consumers we surveyed believe the use of biometrics (fingerprints, facial recognition, or voice recognition) is the most secure method of improving the security of online accounts.

With biometric authentication becoming part and parcel or daily life for many, it’s no surprise that we are seeing levels of trust steadily rise. Whether that’s using fingerprints to unlock a phone or laptop or using face ID to access a mobile banking app, people can already see biometrics working all around them as part of the fight against the rising levels of scams and fraud.

Despite this huge vote of confidence, many businesses haven’t yet capitalised on the opportunity to build trust by implementing this technology. Some regions are certainly ahead of the curve – 58% of US businesses surveyed currently use biometric checks, compared to only 28% of their UK counterparts. UK Businesses need to catch up or risk falling behind to competitors.

Layered protection: the benefits of biometrics technology

Beyond consumer demand, there are plenty of other reasons businesses should be investing in biometric authentication as part of their digital identity and fraud prevention strategy. This includes:

Biometrics creates a smaller attack surface for fraudsters. Firstly, and arguable most importantly, biometrics offers a high-level security – paramount in today’s fraud landscape. The scale of fraud possible is smaller with biometric authentication in comparison to knowledge-based systems. This is because the data is unique to each individual and therefore would require malicious actors to target people on a one-on-one basis to stand a chance of success, reducing the threat of mass attacks on biometric data.

Genuine presence is difficult to fake. While deep fake technology is evolving, genuine presence is very hard to fake and manipulated, edited, and damaged images and videos can be identified by biometric authentication technology. Importantly there are also certifications that give organisations transparency that the vendor they are leveraging meets the highest levels.

Layered protection is key. Businesses need to be careful to ensure they don’t create a single point of failure when implementing their fraud prevention strategy. The more businesses layer data, documents and biometrics, the more trust there will be around the identities they onboard. Adding biometric authentication into a fraud prevention strategy is just another layer of protection added, further securing your onboarding journey.

When it comes to layering fraud prevention strategies, a common concern from businesses is preserving a frictionless experience. My advice here is for businesses to change the way they view friction; it shouldn’t be about a ‘frictionless experience’ but instead embracing ‘good friction’ and balancing defences that are visible and invisible to the client.

Consumers now find comfort and reassurance in visible security measures – so much so that our research shows consumer sentiment is now turning towards a desire for greater security over a speedy, frictionless experience when it comes to onboarding (64% of those surveyed state security is extremely important vs 32% who state speed is extremely important).

So, businesses shouldn’t be afraid to embrace friction to build trust into their digital services. Those that do will benefit from a competitive advantage among consumers looking for signs that the onboarding is securely managed, and their personal information is being kept safe.

Katherine Holden

Katherine Holden

Associate Director, Data Analytics, AI and Digital ID, techUK




Gus Tomlinson

Gus Tomlinson

Chief Product Officer, Identity and Fraud, GBG plc

Gus Tomlinson helps companies onboard customers safely, fight fraud and stay compliant. As Chief Product Officer, Identity and Fraud, for GBG, Gus drives the product and data portfolio of identity and fraud solutions, ensuring that products are aligned to customer demand.

Throughout her career, Gus has used each role to increase her understanding and awareness of customer and consumer issues to deliver insightful commentary on current affairs, from biometrics and fraud prevention to digital identity schemes and regulatory issues. Working across strategic, commercial and data roles, Gus uses her deep knowledge to help businesses keep up to date with the rapidly evolving digital world of identity and fraud.


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