THE MAGAZINE

Convergence: Smart Cards Versus Biometrics

By Peter Piazza

Companies are tying together physical and IT (or logical) access control systems, but not all such systems are equally popular. Forty-nine percent of 89 companies in a wide range of industries surveyed by EQUS Group Inc., a San Jose, California-based research firm, have plans to implement or have already installed smart cards, which represents a convergence of IT and access control. But only 34 percent of companies have or plan to have biometric access-control systems.

The data show that smart cards have a good head start on biometrics, with only 8 percent reporting a completed biometric implementation, about half of the percentage that have completed smart-card implementations. Nine percent plan a biometrics project this year, while 13 percent say that they will deploy smart cards. Two-thirds of those surveyed say they have no plans for biometrics, versus 51 percent who don’t plan on deploying a smart-card solution.

EQUS analyst Dana Good says that the numbers underscore the “pretty negative” feelings of most of those surveyed toward biometrics. Many said that the technology was still not quite ready. A large investment firm’s IT manager interviewed in depth by Good explained to her that his new laptop has a fingerprint reader that works so poorly that it has soured him on the technology. “I can sit there and swipe my finger 10 times, and maybe twice it will log me in. I just give up and do it the old fashioned way with a password,” he told her.

But, says Good, there are some companies confident in biometric technology. For example, the enterprise architect with a large retailer commented that his store was in the process of implementing biometrics to allow customers to pay with just a swipe of a finger, helping to speed up transactions for consumers while enabling the store to track their spending habits. “Other competitors don’t offer that; we think people will do it out of convenience,” he told Good. Plus, it has the ultimate in security: “You can’t really lose your finger.” That system is expected to be functional this year.

@ Highlights from Corporate IT Outlook for 2007: Security & Privacy are at SM Online.

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