Identitypass blog
Identitypass blog

Can passwordless identity be the future of authentication in Africa?


Passwordless authentication has compelling potential for Africa’s growing cyberspace. Bill Gates predicted the demise of passwords as far back as 2004, stating that “they just don’t meet the challenge for anything you really want to secure.” Digitalization has presented countless opportunities for efficiency, growth, and success on the continent. However, it has also become a significant source of worry for many. In 2021, cybersecurity was one of the top three concerns among CEOs on the continent, with 54% saying they are highly concerned about it, compared to 47% globally.

There has been a rise in high-profile cyberattacks, and the increasing adoption of digital technologies continues to highlight the vulnerabilities of many systems. Passwords are a vital concern among such vulnerabilities, as they are increasingly seen as inconvenient and archaic. In their place, passwordless authentication methods are a much-vaunted solution, and Africa has an opportunity to tap this, given the relatively nascent state of digital technology adoption across the continent.

A passwordless identity is a secure form of authentication that eliminates the need for passwords and instead uses biometrics, such as fingerprint and facial recognition, as well as secure tokens, to verify user identity. Passwords are typically inconvenient for users since they are easily forgotten or exploited by unscrupulous actors. Passwordless identification solves this issue using solutions that are more challenging to manipulate. Users may then authenticate themselves safely and without memorizing complicated passwords.

Passwordless identification opens up a slew of new possibilities regarding user experience. It could be especially beneficial for Africans in enabling secure payments and access to various digital services and apps. For example, African consumers increasingly rely on mobile phones for financial services, despite significant sections of the population’s inability to read and write (Africa hosts eight out of the ten countries with the lowest literacy rates globally). Among other things, biometric authentication would allow such users to access services without the hassle of interacting with alphabets and numbers.

Passwordless identity can also help reduce fraud and identity theft, a significant problem globally but increasingly rampant in Africa–there was a 238% rise in cyberattacks on online banking platforms in 2020. By making it harder for malicious actors to gain access to sensitive data, this form of authentication can help to protect users from falling victim to cybercrime.

Passwordless authentication has challenges. One disadvantage is that it necessitates users have access to the proper authentication mechanisms. For example, if a passwordless authentication system uses biometric authentication methods such as face recognition or fingerprint scanning, users must have a device that supports these. Unfortunately, this may only be achievable for some users, particularly in Africa, where many rely on low-end smartphones or feature phones without cutting-edge technology.

A significant challenge for businesses is that passwordless solutions, such as biometrics, are more difficult to deploy than regular password-based authentication. Passwordless authentication methods sometimes require the integration of specialized hardware and software, which may be resource intensive. Similarly, maintenance can be significantly tasking compared to traditional password-based systems.

Given the constraints that digital platforms must address when establishing solutions for African customers, it will take some time. However, it is essential to note that poor password management helps cybercriminals thrive, and enhancing seamless solutions made possible with passwordless identity promises a safer digital future.

Altogether, passwordless identification is an excellent solution for African customers to verify themselves quickly and securely. It removes the need for users to memorize complicated passwords, provides a means of authentication that is tougher to circumvent, and significantly improves user experience.

At Identitypass, we provide quick, secure, and reliable solutions to verify user and business identities across Africa. Our solutions protect your identity information while providing a seamless and convenient experience.

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