Evaluating Biometrics

There are five main considerations when evaluating biometrics for identification and verification purposes: accuracy, convenience, cost, user acceptance, and mobility. According to Morgan Keegan's "Biometric and Natural Interface Technologies" market study, the voice biometric is ranked number one when measured against the criteria of accuracy, convenience, and cost.

Rank Overall Ranking
1 Voice
2 Finger
3 Face
4 Signature
5 Iris
6 Retina

Source: Morgan Keegan Research


Accuracy is most often measured by a biometric technology's equal error rate (EER), which is the point where the false accept percentage and false reject percentage are equal for the system. The percentage of false accepts to false rejects will vary from application to application. For example, security is of primary concern in a financial transaction. In this case, a higher percentage of false rejections are tolerated to ensure the desired level of security.


Many biometric technologies are considered intrusive, and therefore, inconvenient, because they require the user to subject a part of their body to technical scrutiny. For example, fingerprint technology not only requires the installation of additional hardware, but also requires the user to place their finger on a device similar to those used in criminal investigations.


Obviously, organizations will consider the direct cost of integrating hardware and software. However, an assessment of cost will require an investigation of both interoperability with current systems and scalability. A detailed analysis that includes ROI projections must also be evaluated.

User Acceptance

When considering effective security measures for verifying one's identity, user acceptance and adoption is critical. If customers are not comfortable with the method in which they are identified, the security measure will be avoided and adoption will not occur in the mass market.


As more and more financial transactions occur over wireless devices, such as cell phones and personal computing devices, the ability to authenticate an individual's identity from anywhere, at anytime, is vital.