Biometrics is the measurement and analysis of people's physical characteristics. Such characteristics are unique to each individual, therefore biometric technology is often used to identify individuals, giving rise to biometric authentication as a form of identification and access control. Computers can search and store such data in seconds to identify, authenticate, and make decisions on whether or not to allow access. The digital identity solutions market, of which biometric technologies are a major component, is projected to more than double in size in the coming years, reaching almost 50 billion U.S. dollars worldwide.
Examples of biometric technologies include facial, voice, and iris recognition, as well as automated fingerprint identification and signature verification. The global facial recognition market is forecast to reach 8.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. However, it is a relatively small market compared to the voice recognition market which is projected to reach a size of over 27 billion U.S. dollars by 2026.
The French company Thales Group is one of the major players in the biometrics market. Thales’ “Digital identity & security” segment, created in 2018 as a result of the acquisition of the digital security company Gemalto, brought in revenue of almost three billion U.S. dollars in 2020. Another French company IDEMIA is a provider of identity-related security services and has a big focus on biometrics solutions, both for private companies and governments. IDEMIA's annual sales amounted to 2.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.
Trends and concerns
The use of biometrics for digital identity is the most significant development that is shaping the industry currently and in the near future. While the technology helps increase security and convenience in many ways, it does create some new risks. The aspects of biometrics that the public is most concerned with are the use of biometric data as a means to mass surveillance and the risk of misidentifications. The advantages seem to heavily outweigh the fears, driving revenues and usage rates higher every year, and software developers engage widely with biometric technologies to continue developing newer applications and solutions. Overall, biometric technology has established itself as an integral security feature in a world that is becoming more digital every day, and hence requires increasingly advanced methods of securing and accessing information.
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Justina Alexandra Sava
Research expert covering the IT security & services market