As people use the internet for an increasing number of tasks that involve sensitive information, security is more important than ever. Two-factor authentication (TFA) helps protect unauthorized access to important accounts by requiring two separate components instead of just one. For example, in addition to a password the user might need to input a code sent to their mobile phone, provide a fingerprint, or insert a USB key.
As users become more concerned about the safety of their data, TFA is gaining momentum. The global market was valued at $4.73 billion in 2016, and is expected to reach 13.63 billion by 2021 at a CAGR of 23.57%. Currently North America has the largest share of the market at 36.79%, but Europe will likely make the highest contribution to the market’s growth with a CAGR of 24.19%. With such a strong growth rate, the future of TFA looks promising.
One indication of this is a move by the European Banking Authority (EBA) to require “strong customer authentication” for all electronic payments over €10 (or about $10.60 USD). With the average online retail purchase in Europe being over $85, this proposed standard would create substantial demand for services such as TFA, requiring many retailers to adapt their checkout processes.
Internet giants such as Facebook and Google are also implementing TFA, though this is currently optional rather than a requirement. Facebook recently announced that it will support USB keys for TFA, as an alternative to sending a code to the user’s mobile device. The social media company has already offered TFA for several years, but the option to use a USB key makes the service more flexible.
Google has also recently added to its security options, making it possible for IT administrators to require a company’s employees and other users to authenticate with a security key. This provides the protection of TFA without the need for mobile apps or text messages, and is the highest level of security available under this system.
Google’s newest move addresses one of the challenges associated with TFA: it’s inconvenient. Many people object to having to go through an additional step whenever they need to log in, even if that step is relatively quick and simple. By allowing security keys, Google alleviates this somewhat. Consumer resistance to TFA is one of the factors making retailers apprehensive about the EBA’s proposal to increase security. The concern is that consumers will be more likely to abandon their shopping carts and not go through with online purchases because of the added step.
This challenge can actually be an opportunity for TFA, however. It means there is space in the market for more tools to streamline the process and make it faster and more user-friendly. If the EBA introduces this new standard, there will be significant new demand for secure, customer-friendly TFA solutions. Organizations outside of Europe will also likely adopt these solutions for their own purposes. So even though TFA is not universally loved, the market still offers many opportunities for innovative companies.
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