“In announcing its support for the new login mechanism, PayPal noted that it was a founding member of the FIDO Alliance, and emphasized the growing threat of password hacks and phishing.”
PayPal has become perhaps the most high-profile early adopter of the new passkey login solution for online accounts.
First unveiled by Apple in June, passkeys are a passwordless authentication mechanism developed in collaboration with the FIDO Alliance. Essentially, the passkey system generates a unique password for a given online account, and stores it on the end user’s mobile device, locking it behind its biometric authentication mechanisms. The login process therefore becomes a matter of performing a biometric scan on the device, rather than entering a complex password.
Because the passkey solution generates a unique passcode for each of a user’s online accounts, this means that the user can access a range of online services via complex passwords without having to actually know them, or even having to ever see them. The user interface for authentication is simply Face ID or Touch ID.
And the solution isn’t restricted to Apple’s ecosystem alone. Microsoft and Google were also involved in its development – as was the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – and Google initiated beta support for its own passkey systems on the Android operating system and Chrome browser earlier this month.
Still, PayPal’s support for the passkey concept reinforces Apple’s pioneering position. The digital payments platform will initially enable passkey login for iPhone, iPad, and Mac users in the US, with support for other device ecosystems to come sometime in the future. Interested users can login to PayPal.com through a web browser, but later PayPal will deliver passkey login support through its mobile app.
In announcing its support for the new login mechanism, PayPal noted that it was a founding member of the FIDO Alliance, and emphasized the growing threat of password hacks and phishing. PayPal SVP and Head of Consumer Doug Bland also noted the solution’s benefits in e-commerce.
“We are excited to provide our customers a more seamless checkout experience that eliminates the risks of weak and reused credentials and removes the frustration of remembering a password,” he said. “We are making it easier for customers to shop online.”
PayPal says it will begin rolling out PayPal support to countries beyond the US in early 2023. Other major brands that have so far announced their support for passkey logins include Best Buy, Kayak, and eBay.