Asia's Biometric Scanning Craze

A Unisys survey shows majority in Singapore and Malaysia view fingerprint scans as the preferred method of security identification

Fingerprint authentication is still the number one choice of security measure for identity verification in Malaysia and Singapore, according to a Unisys survey.

Results from the recent survey conducted by the IT services vendor revealed that respondents from Malaysia and Singapore chose fingerprint scan as the preferred security authentication mechanism to verify their identity with banks, government departments and other organizations.

Slightly over seven in 10 respondents from Malaysia were most willing to use a scan of their fingerprint to verify their identity, while 70 percent of Singaporean respondents chose it as a preferred security measure.

"In Singapore and Malaysia, what we're seeing in the survey is that [respondents] particularly are interested in giving up more personal data to get security and convenience," said Scott Whyman, vice president and general manager for Asia South at Unisys, in an interview with ZDNet Asia.

He added: "I think convenience is a big factor in this, particularly convenience in terms of being able to get fast access to information--whether it be government information, or to get access to their own information stored by banks, but also the whole process of moving through areas that have potential risks, like airports."

On why Malaysians and Singaporeans are more receptive to using biometrics for identity authentication, Whyman noted that Singaporeans and Malaysians have been "generally more attuned with biometrics for a lot more years than other countries".

He explained that citizens in both countries have a comfort level with using an identity card (IC) that contains personal information, as well as personal biometric data--the fingerprint. As such, he added, Malaysians and Singaporeans have been "conditioned" from a young age to be receptive toward the use of fingerprint for identity verification.

Biometric identification is making its way to Singapore. Last year, the island-state installed an automated system--dubbed enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS)--at border control points. The system enables its citizens, who travel in and out of the country, to clear immigration under 12 seconds using biometric technologies to verify their identity.

In November 2006, Citibank launched the world's first biometric cardless payment service for credit card transactions in the republic.

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