The majority of European citizens support the use of biometrics for criminal identification and for identity documents and passports, though slightly less than half are supportive of the technology replacing PIN numbers for bank cards.

Steria, a provider of IT-enabled business services, perfomed a survey on citizens in the UK, France , Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and found that 81 percent of respondents think biometrics for criminal identification is a good thing, and 69 percent agreed that they would support the use of biometrics in identity cards or passports.

Specifically, 81 percent of French citizens favour the application of biometrics for ID documents, compared to 74 percent of Danish respondents and 68 percent of the survey’s British respondents. Across Europe, 69 percent were also in favour of using biometrics as a form of access control for secure areas. In this case, the French respondents proved again to be the most supportive, with 77 percent, followed by the Danes at 75 percent and the Brits at 69 percent.

According to the company, only 45 percent of citizens agreed they are in favour of the use of biometrics to replace PIN numbers for bank cards. Only 41 percent of Germans were keen to use biometrics for this purpose, compared to 43 percent of Norwegians and 44 percent of Swedish citizens. The French again, are above the European average with 53 percent in favor.

Opinion was also divided on the benefits of biometrics for ID cards and passports. Roughly half of respondents said security against identity theft is the most important reason to use biometrics, while 12 percent think reducing crime is more important. Just 4 percent thinks reducing administrative strain is the most important application.

“Biometric technology is increasingly used to support a diverse range of tasks. Within the security market, it is typically used to process asylum applications and to provide smooth flow of cross-border traffic, or to identify criminal identities and control access to military facilities,” Ole Marius Steinkjer, Business developer at Steria’s Centre of Excellence, Biometrics said. “Other markets are also adopting it where it is used, to protect health records and even bank accounts. However, many citizens are still wary of adopting this technology in their everyday lives due to concerns around privacy.”

“Despite these concerns, it is becoming increasingly common for organisations to use biometrics for effective identification and authentication – for example, airlines, gyms and self-service convenience stores aiming to increase their efficiency, or pharmacies using it to secure their medicine stocks. It is absolutely vital that organisations fully understand the consumer benefits and position them correctly to encourage mainstream adoption of biometrics applications,”