Global biometric device revenues are expected to drop 22% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as the rise in remote working dents physical security demands.

This is according to ABI Research, which projects that revenues for biometric device products and services will fall by $1.8bn in 2020 to $6.6bn.

Part of this has been attributed to remote working, which reduced the need for access control technologies. However, tightening budgets have also played a key role.

“The current decline in the biometrics market landscape stems from multifaceted challenges from a governmental, commercial, and technological nature,” said Dimitrios Pavlakis, digital security industry analyst for ABI Research.

“They have been instigated primarily due to economic reforms during the crisis which forced governments to constrain budgets and focus on damage control, personnel well-being, and operational efficiency.

“Governments had to delay or temporarily cancel many fingerprint-based applications related to user/citizen and patient registration, physical access control, on-premise workforce management, and certain applications in border control or civil, welfare, immigration, law enforcement and correctional facilities.”

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Fears around the spread of the virus have also contributed, particularly when it comes to fingerprint-based technologies.

“Hygiene concerns due to contact-based fingerprint technologies pummelled biometrics revenues forcing a sudden drop in fingerprint shipments worldwide,” he explained.

Biometric device revenues: Future uptick expected

While 2020 has seen a sharp downturn in revenues for the biometric device industry, this is not expected to be long-lasting.

ABI Research predicts that the field will begin its recovery in 2021 and reach total global revenues of $40bn by 2025.

This is part due to the emergence of new use cases, including the integration of biometrics for multi-factor authentication (MFA) for digital logins as an additional form of security.

“Current MFA applications for remote workers might well translate into permanent information technology security authentication measures in the long term,” says Pavlakis.

“This will improve biometrics-as-a-service monetisation and authentication models down the line.”

Read more: Smile and wave: The global race to biometric adoption