6 Uses for Mobile Behavioral Biometrics

Mobile devices are an important part of our lives today. They have revolutionized the way we complete daily activities. 85% of mobile device owners say their devices are central to their lives. Consumers spend, on average, 6.4 hours a day on mobile devices. This includes smartphones and tablets. From watching videos to searching the internet, there are many ways users interact with their devices.


2016-01-15_9-38-10 Image source: Salesforce

Where there is interaction, there is behavior. Each person has unique behavior. This means creating an in-depth, behavioral profile of a user can be used to distinguish one unique person from another. With behavioral biometrics, behavior out of the ordinary is flagged and people you don’t want to access something are prevented. With mobile devices, this means gathering information about finger size, pressure, swipe behavior, and more.


Behavioral biometrics for mobile devices have many different uses, and they don’t all pertain to fraud, as we commonly talk about.

Current methods of authentication for many mobile activities are limited. For example, you use a password to access many accounts. Many passwords can be easily guessed or stolen, which has the potential for unintended consequences, not necessarily just fraud.

Here we discuss the different ways behavioral biometrics can be used with mobile devices.

1. Catch Fraudsters

First, let’s talk about fraud. Specifically, catching the bad guys. Behavioral biometrics can be used to gather data that can distinguish a legitimate purchase from a fraudulent one.

When a transaction is made, businesses must decide whether to flag the charge as fraudulent or give it the green light. With machine learning, data is collected and risk of fraud is calculated using algorithms.

Behavioral biometrics are suited for gathering large amounts of distinct data and so they can be incredibly helpful when detecting fraud. This method also decreases the chance a legitimate customer is locked out of a transaction (the false positive rate).

2. Low-Friction Identity Verification

Optimizing mobile user experience is all about balancing low-friction interactions and successful fraud-fighting. Mobile users tend to experience high friction when accessing accounts or making transactions. A user may be asked to enter a password, PIN, or credit card CVV code.


Many users abandon shopping carts because checkout takes too long. Low-friction verification methods make checkout easier and increase sales. Behavioral biometrics has the ability to verify identity seamlessly, without any effort on the side of the user.

3. Fraud Prevention

Another component of fighting fraud is preventing fraud in the first place. This is the first line of defense.

Fraud prevention typically means authentication, as just talked about. If users can’t verify identity, they are blocked from the account. This decreases the chance malicious users will gain access.

Typical authentication methods like passwords are not secure. Say, for example, a fraudster steals a mobile device. If a user chooses to stay logged into an account, the fraudster can easily access the account to make fraudulent purchases. Many passwords can be guessed, making it easier for the fraudster in this example to wreak havoc.

Behavioral biometrics provide seamless authentication. Behavior out of the norm raises a red flag, preventing fraudulent activity.

4. Ensure Personalized Content

This biometric tool can also be used to ensure mobile content is geared toward the person using the device, not just the device owner. This is useful for families who share mobile devices.

User behavior can distinguish between different users, making it easier for marketers to provide content specifically directed toward individuals or age groups. If one family shares a tablet, behavioral biometrics allows the dad to see product recommendations specific to him, while the mom sees those specific to her interests.

This isn’t just useful for marketers. When multiple people share accounts, for example, a Youtube account, behavioral biometrics can distinguish between users to show only what that user wants to see. For this family, the mom can see the Youtube videos she likes and the dad can see his videos, all in one account.


5. Reduce Account Sharing

It’s extremely common to share paid accounts to different services. For example, several people may share one Netflix account. Unfortunately for the companies providing these services, this means loss of revenue.

Behavioral biometrics can be used to determine whether multiple users are using a single account. Multiple users can be prevented from accessing an account. This method can be used to determine whether users are unique or if it is the same user on different devices.

6. Parental Control

Another use case for behavioral biometrics is parental control. Biometrics can be used to prevent children from accessing certain content. It can also prevent children from uploading forbidden content or making purchases.

This means if a child grabs a parent’s device to buy something he wants using the parent’s credit card information, behavioral biometrics can detect that a child is using the device and prevent the transaction. This increases the safety of shared devices (and the parent’s bank account) around children.


The Final Word

As this post shows, there are many uses for behavioral biometrics. Not only are mobile consumers using devices more and more, they continue to use their devices in different ways. Behavioral data can help inform many aspects of mobile device use. It can be used to prevent and detect fraud, or control personalized content.


2016-01-15_9-39-14 Image source: Salesforce


Behavioral biometrics are extremely useful, especially compared to many existing methods for verifying mobile user identity, namely passwords. This presents an opportunity to better user experience with personalized data. Behavioral biometrics are an important player in the future of mobile device use.

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