A new report by Visa shows that Kiwis have really embraced biometric identification in our everyday lives, even more so than our friends across the Tasman

Are passwords becoming passé? New Zealanders are embracing biometric authentication with enthusiasm, using our fingerprints, faces or voices to access our phones, our banking apps and authenticate payments.

Almost two-thirds of Kiwis (64%) are familiar with biometrics; 68% have used fingerprint recognition and 42% are using it every week for payments or banking, according to a new report by Visa. That’s a significantly higher uptake rate than in Australia, where 58% of those surveyed were familiar with biometrics, 59% had used fingerprint recognition, and only 28% are using weekly, despite the major banks all offering fingerprint or facial recognition for banking app login.

Passwords can’t keep up

E-commerce is growing so rapidly that passwords are not keeping up. The average Kiwi has over 200 online accounts, yet one in five of us (21%) is using the same password for every account and more than half of us (52%) are using the same password for multiple accounts. That presents a serious security issue that biometrics can help to solve.

It’s also an opportunity for merchants, because password issues are a barrier to online shopping. Of the New Zealanders surveyed, 73% saying they’ve abandoned an online purchase when the process caused problems – either trouble logging in, not having a card handy or forgetting their passwords. For the Australians, the rate was 59%.

If online merchants can take some of these friction points out of the online shopping process, by using technology like biometric recognition, that could unlock greater sales potential. Over 65% of New Zealanders see biometrics as faster and easier than passwords, as well as safer, particularly if their device is stolen.

Shoppers want biometrics – with choices

Shoppers in both Australia and New Zealand say they would switch providers to get biometric recognition.

• Banks: 54% of New Zealanders and 50% of Australians say they would switch to a bank that provided biometrics if their bank didn’t
• Payment card provider: 53% of Kiwis and 49% of Aussies say they’d switch
• Mobile phone provider: 52% of Kiwis and 44% of Aussies say they’d switch

This is a clear indicator that early adopters of biometric recognition should be reaping rewards – gaining and keeping customers who appreciate the security, ease and simplicity of biometric identification.

Consumers also want choice – 80% of New Zealanders said they wanted to choose their preferred type of biometric access for their bank. They felt most comfortable with fingerprint recognition, followed by facial recognition, eye scans and voice recognition. Paymark believes that the launch of 5G in New Zealand will make facial recognition software more accessible to retailers, by reducing the need for hardwired systems in retail outlets. It could be as simple as a camera, a point-of-sale add-on and some basic software. It’s possible that within a few years you could walk into a store, pick up the item you want and simply pay with a smile before walking out.

Open banking will pave the way

The future of banking is frictionless, and Paymark has been leading the way in frictionless payments in New Zealand for many years. Merchants can already access Online EFTPOS which provides simple card-free payment transactions for Kiwi consumers. The next generation of payments will be even easier, as we move towards OPEN, our open API network that will allow seamless customer experiences and payments. That will make it easier for New Zealand merchants to offer a world-class payment experience that gives shoppers the choice of ways to pay, including various biometric payment options.

For almost all of us, passwords and passcodes are a clunky way to login to a website and cause plenty of headaches. Biometric recognition, unlike that Ninja123 password your friend uses for everything, is now so advanced it can distinguish between identical twins.

As e-commerce continues to grow and dominate the retail space, biometric identification has the potential to make purchasing online – and in store – simpler and safer than ever.