Biometrics is a magic word in Europe, capturing the imagination
of end-users as it heads for mass market, led by vendors launching new products
over the next few years
A recent study by marketing consulting company Frost
& Sullivan aims to project and track the evolution of the market, as
well as how consumer attitudes in Europe will change.
|The growing fear of fraud is a main driver fuelling
growth in the overall European biometric identification market.|
But though the picture may look rosy, the author of the study also cautions
that some factors may impede the biometric ID market. These issues mainly revolve
around the technology and its practical application, and its ability to be widely
The market is just beginning to open up as biometric devices become more universally
established and public awareness about the technology's benefits rises. Chris
Cherrington, author of Frost & Sullivan's latest study, points out: "The evolution
of biometric solutions is increasingly evident throughout Europe. The next few
years will be indicative of the pace of conversion of manual processes to those
driven by biometric devices."
Encouragingly, sales of biometric devices across Europe amassed $32.8 million
in 1999 and will swell to $158.9 million by the end of the study period in 2006.
High costs and failure rates have traditionally been hampering the acceleration
of biometrics implementation.
However, the growing fear of fraud, intensified by the explosion in e-commerce
usage and the advent of m-commerce, is a main driver fuelling growth in the
overall European biometric identification market.
The threat of identity theft, coupled with the exponential growth of e-business
across Europe, helps galvanise the necessity for remote authentication and identification
verification. Ramping it up
Biometry sales will be energised by the recent agreement on a standard Application
Programming Interface (API), enabling software developers to incorporate biometric
products into other packages.
|Microsoft's announcement that the company' s future
software packages will include an interface for biometric products will
help combat the current level of scepticism.|
Frost & Sullivan's survey states that the complementary technologies, in particular
smart cards and mobile telecommunications, hold the key to the biometrics market.
Strong potential resides in these and other complementary markets.
Cherrington says: "The main obstacle for biometrics vendors is the translation
of the demand for the final service into the requirement for biometry as the
'enablement' technology to achieve their main objectives, i.e. reduced administration
costs and increased security."
If this can be achieved, the demand for biometric solutions will comfortably
outstrip the ability of the current vendor population to supply.
Bill Gates has "endorsed" biometrics, by referring to the technology as a security
solution in a recent speech. Microsoft's announcement that the company' s future
software packages will include an interface for biometric products will help
combat the current level of scepticism, Chris Cherrington believes. Pointing the finger to the future
The star performer in the overall European biometrics ID market is the fingerprint
|Frost & Sullivan expect the early market to be
influenced by those vendors with a link into the mobile phones market.|
The fingerprint chip device market, in particular, is expected to shine. This
can be ascribed to fingerprints offering one of the most marketable biometrics
The fingerprint sector provides a barometer of the overall acceptance of biometrics
by both the general public and by secondary device manufacturers. Fingerprint
biochips are expected to improve their performance and further reduce their
By the end of the forecast period in 2006, the fingerprint will account for
nearly half of total sales in the biometric ID market, with voice authentication
ranking in second position.
The dominant application area in the year 2006 will be authentication, physical
access control and surveillance & monitoring.
Frost & Sullivan expect the early market to be influenced by those vendors
with a link into the mobile phones market. Sony and Infineon will be taking
the mindshare in this space and open the market to other companies.
Thereafter, Frost & Sullivan's study expects to see a spate of alliances and
the development of a very volatile market, characterised by merger and acquisition