Banks have desperately been trying to become our friends in the past few years. We all know that. They position themselves as fun and friendly and want us to stop looking at them as soulless, corporate entities.
But now a British firm is taking the approach a step even further by letting their clients use emoji combinations as pin codes.
Pin codes are a nuisance. Write easy ones – 1234, 1111 – and you are pretty likely to get hacked. Write hard ones and there’s a change you might forget them. So, naturally, the answer is to replace numbers with something a little more enjoyable, that in turn makes them more memorable – words or images. This seems to be the logic that Intelligent Environments embraced when they developed the new emoji based pin codes
David Webber, managing director of Intelligent Environments, gave a statement revealing that the service was designed to appeal to those between the ages of 15 and 25 and asking “Why can’t financial service be fun and innovative? It’s just another method of logging in”. To him it’s such a natural progression that he doesn’t even believe that his team is the first one to have ever though of it.
Dubbed “Emoji Passcode”, the service allows users to replaces the traditional four (4) numbers in pin codes with four (4) emoji characters that they can use to log into their banks.
Emoji Passcode was inspired by a recent survey that showed a third of British adults have forgotten their pin code at least once, and one in four (1 in 4) British adults use the same pin code for all of their cards.
But the new approach to security is not just fun. Intelligent Environments explains that it’s much more secure as well. There are only ten (10) basic numbers that you mix and match in order to get various combinations – 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
To make matters worse, most pin codes aren’t even random or deliberately chosen to not be easy ti guess. People usually use personal dates such as birthdays or anniversaries in order to make it easier for themselves to remember the combination, but unfortunately this si exactly what hackers are relying on too. Such pin codes are very easy for them to break.
But there are 44 different emojis that user can choose from. That’s more than four times the number of numbers. What this means is that the number of combinations between them also increases tremendously. In fact, Intelligent Environments inform that you can make 480 times more password combination using emoji characters.
Digital banks are not wasting any time either, as many have already expressed interest in the technology and are considering implementing it sometime in the next 12 months.
And emoji pin codes are much easier for users to remember. Tony Buzan, memory expert and inventor of the Mind Map technique, gave a statement sharing that our human ability to remember pictures is deeply rooted in our evolutionary history, we simply remember more information when it’s presented to us in image form, and since Emoji Passcode relies on it heavily, it makes it much easier for users to remember the codes that they chose.
Professor Mike Jackson, cyber security expert at Birmingham City University, is more skeptical than everyone else. He stresses that there are several images that express the exact same emotion, and believes that lazy users will still find easy to crack patterns, such as choosing the four (4) emotions in the four (4) corners of the screen.
In addition to this, present-day ATMs and retail stores could not employ the emoji pin codes, so users will need a traditional numbers-based pin code, the result being that they will have even more codes to remember than they currently do.
However Emoji Passcode does have a good change of becoming popular among younger generations. A conducted by Intelligent Environments has found that 64 percent (64%) of millenials regularly communicate using only emoji characters. Narrowing it down even further, Bangor University revealed that 72 percent (72%) of youngsters between the ages of 18 and 25 find it much easier to express their feeling using emoji, rather than words.