Passwordless Login: A Step Closer to a Streamlined Online Experience

March 30, 2021

Passwords are everywhere, and for the longest time, they’ve seemed like a necessary evil to protect our digital lives. As per a study, an average internet user has more than 90 online accounts and is burdened with the numerous passwords she has to enter to log in to various sites, including social media, online shopping, digital banking, and many more. Imagine having to remember the password for all these accounts!

Enter Passwordless Login. They do not eliminate verification; in fact, they enable their users to log in to websites or apps without the need for a password. There are various types of Passwordless Login systems, and with each type, the user will have to prove their identity with one or more forms of authentication. Passwordless Login utilizes one or more of the below multi-factor authentication factors to verify a user’s identity without a password.

  1. Knowledge: Something that a user knows, e.g., PINs or passwords
  2. Possession: Something that a user has, e.g., a device or token (could be hardware or software)
  3. Inherence: Something that the user is, e.g., biometrics or behavioral characteristics

Every authentication method works on the user being able to prove that they are who they say they are to a digitized system that then decides whether to grant or deny access.

Why Passwordless Logins?

Users are finding it increasingly difficult to register passwords and login. A study conducted jointly by Mastercard and the University of Oxford found that about a third of online purchases are abandoned at checkout because consumers cannot remember their passwords. Passwords create a negative user experience, as they force a user to memorize. According to a study by Dashlane, an average internet user receives around 37 “forgot password” emails a year. If the user has to reset the password, she is asked to go through multiple loops for the same causing a massive dip in the overall user experience. Customers are either too busy to deal with such cases or believe that going through all that trouble for an online account feels like a huge waste of time.

Passwords are also more and more prone to being hacked and stolen. A study by Verizon found that 81% of hacking-related breaches involved compromised and weak credentials. 

Luckily, different types of Passwordless Logins are currently available that remove this hassle and work towards creating a positive online experience.

Social Media Authentication

In this method, the user’s social media address is associated with a unique encrypted key as it’s processed through layers of security. The website can effectively verify users’ identities for multiple actions and subdomains by checking the token’s signature against its security algorithm, thereby greatly reducing login friction along the way.

Email Authentication

In the email authentication method, the system verifies a user’s identity using an elaborate encrypted key and their email address. An email is sent to the user’s registered email ID with an encrypted digital key as a link in the email. When the user clicks on the link, the key decrypts and passes the various layers of verification, thereby allowing the user to open an account and begin a session. 

Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication is gaining in popularity owing to the presence of fingerprint readers or facial recognition software in most modern-day smartphones. These biometric features can be used to access accounts or even authenticate payments, such as on Apple Pay. 

SMS-Based Authentication

SMS-based authentication removes the need to have additional online credentials, making it easier to adopt for a wider population. The process is relatively easy where the user enters a phone number, and the server sends a one-time code to that number. The user then enters this code to log in to the account. 

Multi-factor authentication through a Passwordless Login system that utilizes encrypted email or social media authentication along with secure biometric features will be the future of online authentication.

Risks and Mitigation

Passwordless Login is not without its share of risks, well, at least not yet. Fingerprint readers, which are crucial to biometric logins, are considered costly, and often, they do not capture the fingerprints accurately, leading to frustrations at the user’s end. A few facial recognition software can even be tricked with high-quality photographs, and during the pandemic, it is difficult to use them outdoors while wearing masks.

Social sign-in authentication, though efficient, can be difficult for some websites to implement. Firstly, not every user comes with a social media account, and secondly, users may be uncomfortable sharing their sensitive social media data with a third party. Similarly, for email authentication, there is always the fear that hackers can gain access to an email account, thereby compromising all the accounts linked to the email ID.

Backed by Technology

Despite the risks mentioned above, Passwordless Logins are considered the future owing to the technology that drives them. Compared to the traditional system of a username and password, these systems use more advanced authentication methods. They reorganize sensitive data and decentralize access by making use of techniques such as tokenization and encryption. Tokenization is a form of security that arbitrarily creates a token or a set of characters and is harder to decode due to the lack of any mathematical relationship between the real data and the token. Encryption is a way of rearranging data by converting human-readable plaintext to an indecipherable form, commonly referred to as ciphertext, so that only authorized parties can understand the information.

Prove has been at the forefront of creating passwordless authentication solutions based on the two main authentication methods, i.e., Possession and Ownership.

Mobile Auth: Our Mobile Auth solution connects with mobile networks to verify that activity is coming from an expected device, authenticating customers without the need for easily compromised passwords or PINs. Since it is built on core network infrastructure, it is a secure and frictionless method to strengthen a customer’s authentication flow, either as a replacement for OTPs or fortifying them.

Secure Links: Our Instant Link solution replaces the traditional SMS OTP with a secure SMS link message. Utilizing a combination of active (SMS delivery with user action required) and passive (checking against phone intelligence signals), it authenticates identities in real time when users click the link, creating a more secure alternative to the SMS OTP.‍

Along with the above, Prove also offers the Trust Score™ solution, which uses behavioral and phone intelligence signals to measure a phone number’s fraud risk and identity confidence in real time. The various Prove solutions are used together to enable multi-factor authentication without necessitating the use of passwords.


Essentially, Passwordless Login gives users the best of both worlds: users can keep their information securely on file, saving them for the future, and without the burden of remembering a complicated password, which can encourage repeat transactions. 

Moreover, users are more likely to opt for impulse purchases when the method is far easier. Since users are already aware of working on most of these methods, there is less of a learning curve. The methods to be used to complete the login process are currently available.

With more and more people adopting digital life owing to enforced lockdowns and social distancing norms, it becomes important for businesses to invest in ways to make their experience seamless. With their ease of use and backed by technology, Passwordless Logins will have a larger role to play in this endeavor.

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