Press release: COVID-19 will change how biometrics are used and implemented, survey finds

A majority of respondents to the Biometrics Institute’s annual Industry Survey said they believed COVID-19 would change the way biometrics were used and implemented. 60% agreed that the coronavirus marked a pivotal moment for biometrics, with technology suppliers most convinced – 65% – that this would be the case.

In its eleventh year, the Industry Survey provides an insight into trends and developments in the biometrics industry over the last year as well as looking to the future. The results also provide insights into industry attitudes on a number of key issues. The timing of this year’s survey meant that the institute was able to include questions on the impact of the pandemic.

When asked an open-ended question about how the use of biometrics would change as a result of coronavirus, the majority of responses referred to the likely move to contactless and touchless modalities, as well as the increased demand for remote use. Linking biometrics with health data and the need for face recognition technology to be developed to deal with the use of masks were also mentioned.

Isabelle Moeller, Biometrics Institute chief executive said, ‘The introduction of COVID-19-related questions this year shows us what we have also found from our recent online meetings – that the virus is something of a gamechanger for the industry. These meetings have truly connected our global community and shown us how agile and willing it is to find new solutions to the challenges we now face. This month we’ll be launching our Good Practice Framework, a brand new good practice tool to guide our members through the process of implementing or reviewing biometric technology responsibly and ethically. This timely release will be especially useful as the industry navigates new waters together.’

Human rights should be front of mind

Among the Biometrics Institute members and industry professionals who completed the survey, it was generally agreed that any response to the pandemic should have human rights at the front of mind. There was however some recognition that there might be a need to sacrifice some degree of privacy moving forward.

Privacy and data protection concerns are restraining the market

Away from COVID-19, the view that privacy and data protection concerns are the leading factor restraining the market has been steadily rising over the last five years. This year, these issues still topped the table and were mentioned by nearly two thirds of respondents – 63% – but had dipped slightly from last year.

Misinformation, data sharing concerns and poor knowledge amongst decision makers followed. 

Mass surveillance and misidentification concern the public the most

Following a lively media debate on the future of biometrics since last year’s survey, a new question asked what aspects of biometrics industry professionals thought concerned the public the most. Linked databases leading to mass surveillance and misidentification topped the list.

And a conclusive 89% agreed that properly educating the public about the benefits of biometrics is crucial for the future of the industry.

On the subject of law enforcement, 68% agreed that use of biometrics should always be proportionate and time limited with only 14% disagreeing.

The summary as well as the full report – which contains more detail and further analysis by region and other key subgroups – is available to members here.

Non-members can buy the summary for £100 (+VAT) for the first time this year. Any non-members wanting to do so should email


326 industry professionals across the world completed the online survey in May 2020.

The information in this press release is taken from the summary of the Annual Survey 2020. For further information on the survey findings, please contact

About the Biometrics Institute:

The Biometrics Institute is the independent and impartial international membership organisation for biometric users and other interested parties. It was established in 2001 to promote the responsible use of biometrics and has offices in London and Sydney.

With more than a thousand members from 240 membership organisations spread across 30 countries, it represents a global and diverse multi-stakeholder community. This includes banks, airlines, government agencies, biometric experts, privacy experts, suppliers and academics.

The Biometrics Institute connects the global biometrics community. It shares knowledge with its members and key stakeholders and most importantly, develops good-practices and thought leadership for the responsible and ethical use of biometrics.

For more information, please email Claire Fox Baron:

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