British banking service to debut ‘emoji-only passcodes’

Intelligent Environments, an online banking service provider based in the United Kingdom, announced Monday, June 15, 2015 it plans to debut an emoji-based passcode system in the next year. (Photo: Intelligent Environments)

(MEDIA GENERAL) – A British online banking service provider is launching a new passcode system that they say is safer and easier to remember. The new tool? Emoji passcodes.

A new emoji passcode system for Intelligent Environments will allow users to access their banks using four emoji characters, instead of traditional numeric or alphabet-based passwords. The system will use 44 characters, including several of the most popular emoji.

With the emoji system’s 44-character bank, the new passcode system “has 480 times more permutations using (emoji) over traditional four-digit passcodes,” according to IE, making it more secure. Also, IE cites research that shows images are easier to remember than combinations of letters and numbers, and the company expects that brain training to translate to emoji.

Added benefits aside, IE notes this move will cater toward a younger demographic, which is part of a plan to court millennials.

“We’ve had input from lots of millennials when we developed the technology,” IE manager director David Webber said in a statement. “Our research shows 64 percent of millennials regularly communicate only using emoji. So we decided to reinvent the passcode for a new generation.”

Not everyone is on board with an emoji passcode. Michael Orosz, a behavioral decision-making expert at the University of Southern California, says the safety mechanism works in theory but will make less of an impact than IE says.

“The majority of your users are going to use basically the same patterns as everybody else,” Orosz told NPR. “We think alike. 1-2-3-4? There’s going to be the equivalent of that in that domain. In theory, a lot more combinations, therefore a lot more security. But in a practical sense, doubtful.”

IE said the company expects to roll out the emoji passcode system in the next year.

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