As efforts continue to deliver more secure authentication methods, American consumers are keenly interested in biometrics as a technology to make their lives easier and safer, according to a new Visa survey.

Eighty-six percent of consumers are interested in using biometrics to verify identity or to make payments, and more than 65% are already familiar with biometrics, as Visa recently asked 1,000 American consumers about their awareness and perceptions of biometrics authentication.

Even though it has been a member the FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance for three years, working to eliminate static passwords, Visa has also developed its Visa ID Intelligence platform to help banks and merchants adopt emerging biometric authentication solutions.

Visa's movements in biometrics align with its current indifference toward dropping signature authentication at the physical point of sale, as Mastercard, Discover and American Express have in the past few months. Visa has not dropped signature officially, instead saying it has moved most of its transactions away from that method anyway.

Visa says new forms of authentication, such as fingerprint, facial, and voice recognition, can make unlocking accounts and payments much easier and more convenient than traditional passwords or PINs — which are difficult to type onto tiny keyboards, easy to forget, and can be stolen.

"For financial institutions, the time has never been better to integrate biometric technology into banking apps and payments experiences for customers," Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of risk and authentication products at Visa, said in a press release.

At the same time, consumers are "widely familiar and comfortable with using biometrics for more than just unlocking their phones," he said.

According to the Visa study, conducted by AYTM Market Research, 70% of consumers believe that biometrics are easier and 46% think they are more secure than using passwords or PINs. Findings from the survey illustrate consumers' desire to see the implementation of biometric tools in payment authentication processes.

Through the Visa ID Intelligence platform's selection of leading third-party authentication technologies, Visa says its clients can create, test and adopt new authentication solutions with simple integrations using Visa application programming interfaces and software development kits.

Other findings in the survey included consumers saying they were most familiar with fingerprint recognition with 30% having used it once or twice and another 35% using it regularly. By comparison, about 32% have used voice recognition in the past and only 9% use it regularly.

Seventy percent of respondents find biometrics easier than passwords and 61% consider it faster. Fewer than a third of consumers use unique passwords for each of their accounts.

Fifty percent of consumers responded that the top benefit of using biometrics is eliminating the need to remember multiple passwords or PINs, followed by 46% who said that biometrics is more secure than passwords or PINs for verifying identity.

Forty-nine percent are concerned both about the risk of a security breach of sensitive biometric information and that biometric authentication won't work well or will take multiple tries.

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