Table of Contents

What Every SMB Needs to Know About Passwordless Customer Authentication

Real talk: small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have a severe customer authentication problem. For them, tight budgets and skeleton crews make integrating easy-to-use authentication extremely difficult. 

Their reliance on usernames and passwords presents a stumbling block to customers who are likely to abandon an SMB’s site or app if they’re forced to reset their credentials. Even more pressing, their typically small IT teams make their users vulnerable targets for cybercriminals. So, what threats might exist for a small-to-medium-sized business?

Over 60% of SMBs experienced some form of a data breach in 2019 (Ponemon Institute), and Samsung reported earlier this year that credential theft should be among an SMB’s top concerns. Verizon’s 2021 BDIR report revealed that the frequency of cyber attacks against small organizations rose sharply over last year, with the use of stolen credentials becoming the most prevalent intrusion. 

However, a need for a customer-friendly, highly secure and simple-to-deploy solution makes SMBs ideal candidates for passwordless authentication. Let’s break down exactly why SMBs can profit from a passwordless, biometric-based authentication solution and how they can jump-start their journey.

The password-derived problems SMBs face

Many SMBs currently use usernames and passwords to authenticate customers. These antiquated security mechanisms are problematic for a litany of reasons. We’ve covered this in more detail in our blog Passwords and the Evolution of Imperfect Authentication — but the short version is that passwords:

  • Cause problems for infrequent and forgetful users
  • Create friction in the identity experience and result in attrition
  • Leave exploitable security holes and are easily compromised

Passwordless authentication eliminates these issues and smooths out the rough edges in the identity experience. For example, it’s easy to transfer trust between devices, like a smartphone and a biometric-enabled laptop. Users can fall back on any number of devices to verify it’s really them, never again struggling to remember ancient passwords.

Identity portability, or the ability to authenticate from any app, device or channel, lies at the heart of a passwordless solution. This creates a seamless journey that makes it more straightforward for infrequent users to regain access at any time and from any device. Customers are encouraged to return whenever they feel like it — not just when they have the time to recover a long-forgotten account.

Passwordless authentication is a high-security and customer-centric solution

SMBs will want to, at a bare minimum, make a lateral move with the security of their customer authentication. Security, especially external website security, is crucial for SMBs. External website security is everything an SMB must have to protect their web properties from outside cyber-attacks, and that includes ironclad authentication. 

Fortunately, passwordless, biometric-powered authentication provides a higher level of protection than typical multi-factor authentication (MFA) apps. Whereas apps like Google Authenticator combine “something you know”  (constantly rotating codes) with “something you have” (a smartphone), biometric data is the only inherent, impossible-to-imitate way of proving your identity. 

Traditional MFA also suffers from an adoption issue — many users simply don’t care to go through the extra setup. True app-less authentication can also result in a much higher adoption rate, and better adoption means better security.

Passwordless authentication also resolves the frustrations users face when remembering a password or creating a new account. It enhances the ease of use for all customers and encourages them to return to an SMB’s app or site, forming loyal relationships for repeat business. 

With passwordless authentication, infrequent users no longer need to recover their accounts just to make a purchase or access an SMB’s services. They simply verify their identity as painlessly and seamlessly as possible using biometrics.

Passwordless authentication streamlines the identity experience

Passwordless customer authentication with biometrics

Customer attrition is a significant issue for SMBs. We’ve previously discussed why identity experiences, or the entire authentication journey of a customer, should be a priority in business. 

Ultimately, it comes down to friction. Any speed bump a customer encounters is one more annoying prod until they’re out the door. More than 65% of customers will abandon a website if asked to create a username and password.

App-less, passwordless authentication eliminates these obstacles. Using biometric-capable devices like a smartphone, users rapidly obtain and retain access to an SMB’s services. This truly app-less experience results in a seamless identity experience that both ensures a customer’s safety and keeps them on track.

Passwordless authentication helps prevent damaging account compromises

Cyber attacks of all kinds are incredibly damaging to SMBs. Samsung reports that credential theft is among the top cyber threats to SMBs, especially impostor websites built to swipe customer logins. Once again, passwords rear their ugly head and pose an irrefutable security threat.

Moreover, because SMBs live and die by their customer relationships, account compromises can be especially harmful. The U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance discovered that 60% of small companies never recover from a breach, with most folding within six months of a cyber attack.

A ready-to-deploy passwordless authentication solution takes the guesswork out of an SMB’s defense strategy. It means they can rest easy knowing that hackers, scammers and would-be cyber thieves will have to contend with state-of-the-art biometric technology before they can even think about compromising customer accounts.

How SMBs can get a jump start with passwordless customer authentication

There’s a better option for SMBs. It’s easy to deploy and requires little to no configuration: passwordless, FIDO-certified, biometric-based and app-less Transmit Security. Only Transmit Security delivers powerful omni-channel identity portability that makes it easy for customers to transfer trust between devices, verify their identity with call centers or even authenticate at in-person locations like kiosks.

Transmit Security is easy to implement with a seamless approach to passwordless customer authentication. Powered by state-of-the-art technology, your business will get the perfect “fire and forget” solution to provide customers with a frictionless journey. 

Minimal coding is required. You can get up and running in weeks or months, not years. But Transmit Security isn’t just a simple authenticator, it’s an entire security ecosystem. 

For SMBs, passwordless authentication is the first and most important step in revolutionizing the identity experience. To learn more about passwordless customer authentication, check out our report covering the business implications of passwords


  • Alex Brown

    A self-professed technology geek, content writer Alex Brown is the kind of person who actually reads the manual that comes with his smartphone from cover to cover. His experience evangelizing for the latest and greatest tech solutions gives him an energized perspective on the latest trends in the authentication industry. Alex most recently led the content team at Boston-based tech company