The same iPhone feature that enables users to unlock the phone with a fingerprint scan may make it easier to access your bank account without typing in a long password or going through multi-step login processes.
At Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would open up Touch ID to all apps, extending its capability to enable quick unlocking of the phone and faster app downloads. TechCrunch reported at the time that Apple made the Touch ID API available for developers to use the fingerprint sensor to authenticate users or to add extra security measures. The expanded Touch ID system, which was originally introduced with the iPhone 5s, captures a user’s fingerprint and then uses the image to unlock a “keychain” of saved logins and passwords for a variety of apps.
The fingerprint data remains stored on the iPhone, and Apple says that it won’t be shared with third-party developers. Apple’s opening of Touch ID to developers could lead to the fingerprint sensor being used to give users quick access to things like their banking apps, and USA Today points out that Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), with 15 million active mobile accounts, could use the technology in their future iOS apps. With the introduction of HomeKit still fresh, TechCrunch also speculated that eventually Touch ID could be used to unlock your house, or to make purchases on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) or via PayPal.
And Apple said that 83 percent of iPhone 5s owners use a fingerprint scan to unlock the phones — compared with the fewer than half who used a passcode before Apple introduced the fingerprint sensor. Though the convenience is attractive to users, the growing use of biometric data begs the question: with such frequent breaches and bugs, how will companies, banks, and other organizations keep users’ data secure?