A British firm thinks it has cracked the secret of secure online banking — emoji passwords.
Intelligent Environments is letting users of its Android banking app log in using a combination of emoji instead of a four-digit PIN code, the BBC reports.
The company says using an emoji password is mathematically more secure than traditional methods, because you can make 480 times more password combinations out of the 44 available emojis compared to the traditional pin.
The traditional PIN has 7,290 unique permutations of four non-repeating numbers, while the Emoji Passcode has 3,498,308 million unique permutations of non-repeating emojis, based on a selection size of 44 emoji, according to Intelligent Environments.
Using emoji would also stop hackers from figuring out your passcode if you’ve used an easily obtainable date, like a date of birth or wedding anniversary.
People also find it easier to remember images, which might help out forgetful Brits. A third of people surveyed by Intelligent Environments said that they had forgotten their PIN codes before, and a quarter use the same PIN number for all of their credit or debit cards.
The company told Business Insider that banks are already showing interest in the idea of allowing emoji passwords for online banking.
The BBC report picked out what could turn out to be a major flaw in the company’s idea — human behaviour.
“Statistically it will be harder to crack,” former memory champion Michael Tipper told the BBC. “But if you’re presented with a screen of emojis and you can’t be bothered to remember a sequence you’re going to pick the ones in the four corners or the top row — and then you are left with an equally insecure technology.”
Tipper’s argument, which recommends Intelligent Environments test the behavioural aspect of emoji passcodes more rigorously, relies on the idea that people would be more likely to pick a simpler combination of emojis than they would digits.
But it seems that emoji passwords would just be an optional extra to digital banking security, and the idea is really aimed at millenials, who quite happily use emoji on a daily basis.
“What’s clear is that the younger generation is communicating in new ways,” said David Webber, manager director at Intelligent Environments. “Our research shows 64% of millennials regularly communicate only using emojis. So we decided to reinvent the passcode for a new generation by developing the world’s first emoji security technology.”