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Apple's latest iPhone model could spur biometrics revolution

Sep 18, 2013 Dave King

Apple introduced the iPhone 5S this week, and there are some notable additions, especially one that may change the face of electronic payment security.

Touching on security to accelerate mobile payments
There were many rumors as to what would be featured in the tech giant's latest smartphone mobile device, but one prediction proved to be correct. The newest version of Apple's iPhone employs biometrics to spur greater security for both users and developers. Known as Touch ID, a sensor is embedded in the home button and scans the owner's fingerprint to unlock the device, Fierce Mobile Content reported.

According to Apple, this will benefit users by allowing them to log in more quickly than with traditional passwords, the inconvenience of which spurs many consumers to not even bother setting them up, the news source explained.

Furthermore, this could result in increased usage of mobile banking and payment apps, as biometrics adds an extra layer of security since fingerprints are stored only on the device, Fierce Mobile Content wrote. They are not backed up in the cloud nor do they use any alphanumeric symbols, making it much more difficult for hackers or cybercriminals to gain access to a users' data or financial information.

Apple eyeing m-commerce with biometrics
Some experts believe Apple's adoption of biometrics could make the iPhone the "digital wallet of the future," Jason O'Grady wrote in an article for ZDNet . While the tech company has resisted adopting near-field communication (NFC), biometrics could be more attractive to both businesses and users, O'Grady explained.

"In addition to convenience, biometrics add a new level of security to iOS that would be extremely attractive to enterprise users and IT departments," asserted O'Grady. "Unlike an iOS passcode, which could be stolen from a password database or a printed note, a fingerprint is completely unique and must be physically present to be authenticated."

However, challenges still exist for Apple. The company's biometric scanner will need to function efficiently, i.e. they shouldn't require users to scanner their fingerprints several times to authenticate. In fact, O'Grady noted, the technology will need to work quickly at least 75 percent of the time - anything lower, and users won't take to the technology.

Whether biometrics eventually are featured on all phones in part depends on Apple's success. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the mobile payment industry and security, but only if implemented correctly.