The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by technology, regulatory reforms, and risk mitigation, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as customer service robotics, robotic inventory management, voice commerce, and smart checkout. In the last three years alone, there have been over 133,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Cloud: Biometric payments. 

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

70+ innovations will shape the retail industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the retail industry using innovation intensity models built on over 128,000 patents, there are 70+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Biometric authentication, gesture-based user interfaces, and shipping management systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are user biometric authentication and instant messaging social network, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for cloud in the retail industry 

Biometric payments is a key innovation area in cloud 

Biometric payment refers to the use of biometric authentication in order to authorise fund deduction from an individual’s bank account. The technology uses physical characteristics such as fingerprint scanning. 

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of biometric payments. 

Key players in biometric payments – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry 

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to biometric payments

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SoftBank Group 311 Unlock company profile
Headwater Research 189 Unlock company profile
Apple 185 Unlock company profile
Intel 181 Unlock company profile
Headwater Partners I 180 Unlock company profile
Visa 161 Unlock company profile
Licentia Group 151 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 147 Unlock company profile
Cox Enterprises 123 Unlock company profile
Black Gold Coin 113 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 110 Unlock company profile
LG 73 Unlock company profile
PayPal Holdings 55 Unlock company profile
Xiaomi 48 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 47 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 42 Unlock company profile
Veridium IP 40 Unlock company profile
Pendrell 40 Unlock company profile
Capital One Financial 36 Unlock company profile
Nok Nok Labs 32 Unlock company profile
eBay 31 Unlock company profile
Tencent Holdings 29 Unlock company profile
Universal Secure Registry 27 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 27 Unlock company profile
MeReal Biometrics 26 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 25 Unlock company profile
Proxense 24 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 22 Unlock company profile
Fingerprint Cards 21 Unlock company profile
Groupon 21 Unlock company profile
FaceTec 19 Unlock company profile
Walmart 19 Unlock company profile
AT&T 18 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 16 Unlock company profile
Magic Leap 15 Unlock company profile
China UnionPay 15 Unlock company profile
Beijing Electronics Holding 15 Unlock company profile
Amazon.com 14 Unlock company profile
JPMorgan Chase 14 Unlock company profile
Thales 14 Unlock company profile
Bizmodeline 14 Unlock company profile
Furukawa 13 Unlock company profile
Mastercard 12 Unlock company profile
Zwipe 12 Unlock company profile
Grabango 12 Unlock company profile
Bundesdruckerei 12 Unlock company profile
BlackBerry 12 Unlock company profile
IDEMIA France 11 Unlock company profile
NEC 11 Unlock company profile
Cisco Systems 11 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

SoftBank Group is one of the leading patent filers in biometric payments. Some other key patent filers in the biometric payments space include Headwater Research and Apple. Recently, SoftBank choose Nok Nok Labs to develop a biometric authentication for its mobile customers, to allow convenient access to the mobile app through biometrics. 

In terms of application diversity, Cox Enterprises leads the pack, while AT&T and Sony Group stand in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Black Gold Coin holds the top position, followed by Headwater Partners I and Magic Leap

Biometric payments will potentially become an important aspect in the retail industry. With retail companies increasingly focusing on improving convenience and safety for consumers, biometric payments will gain popularity. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Cloud Computing in Retail

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.