One of Many Biometric Investments Facing Failure

by Tim Sloane 0

This article in Bloomberg recounts how the biometric security firm Clear, which utilizes fingerprint and iris recognition, is growing its networks of airports where the technology can be used:

“Clear, the biometric screening firm long hobbled by a limited network, is landing in several major U.S. airports soon—including New York’s LaGuardia—marking the start of an era that could radically accelerate your trip from curb to cabin. But there are some bumps to smooth out first.

Clear, which started at JFK International Airport earlier this month, will open screening lanes at LaGuardia and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson in the next few days, followed by Los Angeles International and Minneapolis-St. Paul by April. All told, the expansion will put Clear at 22 major airports, covering the majority of domestic American flights, according to the company.”

The article also describes several challenges for Clear, mostly focused on location, location, location but not questioning the choice of technology or the use of a centralized database for biometric data:

“There are other obstacles still facing Clear. Its lanes, for one, aren’t always located in the same terminals that have the bulk of an airport’s traffic. At both Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Bush airports, for example, Clear’s lanes are in terminals not used by the dominant carriers at those hubs, American Airlines Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc., respectively. Cohen said each airport has different needs and requirements about where Clear can establish screening.”

The Mercator Report “Biometrics: A New Wrinkle Changes the Authentication Landscape” identifies the new technologies that will displace this approach while how quickly the new technology will be deployed to consumers is forecast in the Report “Biometrics: A Market Forecast for Consumer Adoption.” Suffice it to say that money spent deploying biometric hardware and a centralized database will need to achieve breakeven in a disturbingly short period of time.

Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group

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