Do you remember the good old days when you did not need a feature called ‘OTP assist’ in your app? Because OTPs back then were 4 digit long, you could remember them easily and hence there was no fuss about it. But that is exactly one of the reasons why the world has switched to 6 digit OTPs, because at the end, security is what matters the most.
What is an OTP?
OTPs are also known as one time passwords and they are randomly generated combination of codes that are valid for a single login session of any user. OTPs usually require a secondary authentication in order to work which in the case of transactions is your card number and other secure details. OTPs help confirm your identity and are a much needed added layer of security when e-commerce transactions come into play.
Why 6 digits?
Simply put, there is no specific reason why the world switched from 4 digit OTPs to 6 digit OTPs other than the fact that they were more secure. Most people point to the fact that it was a case of “herd mentality” or “follow the leader” where once a company/corporation switched to 6 digit OTPs everybody followed. But we have to remember that when it comes to OTPs, they work because they are near impossible to guess. They work on algorithms that help generate one time combinations that are unique to the user as well as that particular login session making it pretty hard to predict/guess them. Thus a 6 digit code gives you more space to generate elaborate combinations totally unique when compared to each other, thus giving someone trying to guess it a way harder time than before.
Another prominent reason is the fact that 6 digit OTPs hit the sweet spot when it comes to memorising numbers at a glance. They aren’t complicated enough to make your head spin, while they are not easy enough to see from far away which makes them the perfect choice. 4 digit OTPs on the other hand were a small amount of numbers that could be seen and predicted even if far away. Moreover guessing a 4 digit combination is easier for someone trying to hack you when compared to a 6 digit one.
All in all it is for the good that banks and e commerce retailers chose to go with 6 digit OTPs. What do you feel about their choice? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below.