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Will banks give thumbs up to Emoji passwords?

Barry Collins
16 Jun 2015
Emoji Passcode
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British firm wants to replace passwords with smiley faces and other symbols

Forget passwords with a minimum of eight characters, including at least one number and a capital letter. Well, you probably do, which is why a British firm has invented a new way of logging into your bank account using Emoji. 

Yes, instead of trying to remember the alpha-numeric key to your finances, your next bank password might well be smiley face, sunglasses, top hat and dollar symbol. That's the brain child of Intelligent Environments, which claims Emoji make more memorable and more secure passwords for smartphone banking apps. 

The company has built Emoji authentication into the Android version of its banking app. Customers have to remember their four-symbol sequence, and pick them from a bank of 44 different Emoji icons that are offered on screen.

Intelligent Environments says choosing from the 44 symbols offers 480 times as many permutations as a four-digit passcode, and will be easier to remember. The company quotes "memory expert" Tony Buzan, inventor of the Mind Map technique, who claims humans have an "extraordinary ability to remember pictures", which is why the "Emoji Passcode is better than traditional PINs."

However, there are a couple of notable drawbacks to Emoji-based authentication. Firstly, it only works on touchscreens, meaning bank customers may still have to remember an additional, conventional password or phrase if they want to perform telephone banking. The other is the scope for confusion, with many Emoji symbols looking similar to one another - although with only 44 of the hundreds of available options to choose from, the company may be able to weed out potential duplicates. 

Intelligent Environments says it is "currently in discussion with banks that are considering rolling the technology out to their customers within the next 12 months". We suggest they start with Smile

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