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Despite biometric push, paper and code still dominate IM

15 May 2013


While biometrics is high on the media, public and policy agendas, the everyday process of identifying yourself still mostly takes place through papers or cards, and by typing pincodes and passwords. This is one outcome of the first survey game we conducted for IMPRINTS, intended to create a benchmark study about current forms of identity management. We asked a representative sample of the UK public (1400 respondents) to play an online game through which they answered several questions about their usage, problems with, and expectations around IM.

Passport, driving license and bank cards are the first things that come to people’s minds when they are asked about the IDs they use. They are also the most widely used among all of the respondents. There are, in addition, a number of interesting ‘secondary’ forms of ID, most notably utility bills (mentioned by 34 percent of the respondents), loyalty cards, a work-related ID, or a Proof of Age card. Biometrics have not entered everyday life in the UK yet. About a third of the respondents have experienced one type of biometric measure, typically at the airport and border control.

On average, people have about 12 different means of IM at their disposal, most prominently bank, customer and membership cards. People don’t seem to have many problems handling these cards; half of the respondents reported minor issues such as losing them, misplacing them or getting them damaged. Only about five percent of the respondents said they had experienced serious card theft (of money or their identity). A similarly unproblematic picture emerges from people’s management of their passwords and pincodes; people claim to have no problems remembering them and only a few respondents indicate that they have to look them up again and again, or keep them externally (written down offline or online) .

You'll find more on these figures here. See also our earlier blog post about the social stratification of IM