Passwords Frustrate South Africans – MasterCard Survey

Sixty-three percent of South Africans would select biometrics over traditional passwords, if they had the choice.

A new MasterCard survey called RIP Passwords reveals that fifty-four percent of South African’s surveyed believe that there are better ways to protect their personal information than using passwords.

With 45 percent of South Africans entering passwords up to 10 times a day, there is no wonder that 72 percent of respondents feel frustrated when they forgot their password for a website. Additionally, 61 percent indicated that they are irritated by having to remember multiple passwords, and more than half get annoyed when they have to create complex passwords that include numbers, upper and lower case letters and symbols.

With the majority (86 percent) of people forgetting their passwords at some stage, with one quarter forgetting them at least once a month, South Africans lose, on average, 14 and a half minutes of their day every time they have to reset one. This results in people losing out on time-sensitive online purchases like tickets to a concert or on discounted airfares. As many as 41 percent say that they have simply abandoned a purchase because they’ve forgotten a password.

More than half of respondents (58 percent) tend to use the same password for almost every website that requires one. This makes them vulnerable if someone were to obtain this primary password with the most commonly used passwords comprised of completely random numbers, letters or symbols, birthdays, a child’s name or other family name.

Looking at innovation in identity protection, biometrics is a hot topic globally.

The survey reveals that 65 percent of South Africans would be interested in using biometrics instead of traditional passwords. Furthermore, seven out of 10 say that biometrics, such as fingerprint or voice recognition technology, would be an easier way to access their accounts that require passwords. Sixty-three percent say they would select biometrics over traditional passwords, if they had the choice.

“Consumers and businesses alike across South Africa seek faster, more secure and smarter methods of payment for an increasing array of transactions. As mobile technology and payments evolve, people expect technology to simplify the way they pay for goods and services. Putting identity verification at the cardholder’s fingertips makes it easier for consumers to complete secure transactions, regardless of whether they are shopping online or in-store,” says Mark Elliott, Division President, MasterCard, South Africa.


  1. However frustrating, we will have to live with passwords for long.

    In a world where we live without remembered passwords, say, where our identity is established without our volitional participation, we would be able to have a safe sleep only when we are alone in a firmly locked room. It would be a Utopia for criminals but a Dystopia for most of us.

    Incidentally, biometrics are dependent on passwords in the cyber space. So are multi-factor authentications and ID federations like password-managers and single-sign-on services. Passwords will stay with us for long.

    It is too obvious, anyway, that the conventional alphanumeric password alone can no longer suffice and we urgently need a successor to it, which should be found from among the broader family of the passwords (= what we know and nobody else knows).


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