The Asia Pacific biometrics market has made hay against the background of escalating security concerns in the region. The Bali bomb blasts and recent attacks on the city of Mumbai have raised concerns regarding the existing security measures. Legislations are being passed to beef up security across the countries in the region. In such a scenario, biometrics have assumed great importance, and it will only be a matter of time before it becomes the standard security technology. With the backing of the government, biometrics is being considered for official government buildings, military installations, laboratories and hospitals.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan titled "The Asia Pacific Biometrics Market" finds that the market earned revenues of more than US$165 million in 2009 for hardware only and estimates this to reach $700.7 million in 2015.
"The market is still in the growth stage, and new avenues of opportunity are opening up for investors in both security and database management applications," said Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Navin Rajendra. "As more countries adopt national ID projects and e-passport programs, the market is expected to gain momentum."
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the potent advantages of biometrics, which include convenience, speed, and accuracy. The spurt in R&D activity in this sector has resulted in the rollout of faster, more accurate and more ergonomically designed biometric systems.
Although the prospects for biometrics look bright in the Asia Pacific, there are some impediments clouding the market landscape. The cost of a biometric system remains a major deterrent to adoption. Due to the economic downturn, enterprises have been functioning on shoestring budgets for an extended period and are unwilling to spend on security. Besides, large-scale deployment of biometrics in an enterprise is a time consuming process.
With these challenges looming large, consumers have questioned the ROI of these solutions. Another matter reigning in market progression is the large number of legacy systems being used for security. A strong foundation of legacy systems such as keypads, swipe cards and so on will make the case more difficult for biometric solutions.
While fingerprint modality continues to account for the largest percent of biometric solutions used in the Asia Pacific region, hygiene issues have been a major roadblock in markets such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. In many of these cultures, it is often considered unhealthy and unclean to press one's finger or thumb on a reader that is used by many strangers.
"Vendors in these countries have resolved the problem to a certain extent by employing contactless modes of biometric identification," Rajendra said. "However, there is a limit to the number of applications that can use contactless modes of biometric identification as a result of the size of the reader."
Consumer electronic goods such as mobile phones and PDAs would be affected as it will not be economical to have a contactless reader against a standard fingerprint swipe. Nevertheless, biometric technology has found vigorous uptake in real estate, retail and entertainment complexes.
Meanwhile, voice recognition software is being tested for phone banking services and is expected to provide a push for voice biometrics. However, this will be made possible only if there is proper development of the standard voice lines.