Ever get a text message punctuated with a smiley face with heart-shaped eyes or a fist bump and wonder what happened to the good ol’ fashioned sideways grin? :-)

Welcome to the new age of emoji, the official term for those cartoonish icons used to convey emotions, objects or events in messaging apps and social media. (There are 722 emoji in all, for those of you keeping score.)

They might seem a little silly. But don’t dismiss emoji as a passing fad among texting teens. This month, British online banking service provider Intelligent Environments announced that users can log into their new banking app using four emoji characters instead of traditional numeric pins or text passwords.

That’s right: Instead of your brother’s birthday or the last four digits of your childhood street address, you can now set your pin to be heart/glowing star/monkey/smirking face.

You may wonder why you’d use emoji passwords instead of numbers. Intelligent Environments makes a pretty good case for it:

  • Emoji passwords are more secure. More combinations are available than traditional four-digit passcodes.
  • Emoji passwords are easier to remember. Research shows that humans remember pictures better than words.
  • Emoji passwords are less hackable. With an emoji password, fraudsters can’t attempt to log into your account with common and easily obtainable numeric passcodes like a date of birth or anniversary.

Could emoji passwords be the passwords of the future? In an era where 64 percent of millennials admit they regularly communicate using only the tiny cartoons, the concept is worth considering. Read more in the source article from NPR.org.

By the way: If you’ve been wondering how to start using emoji on your Apple or Android device, it’s simple (and fun!) to get started. Check out this how-to guide to install the emoji keyboard.

Regardless of how strong you set your passwords, identity theft can happen to anyone. Consider protecting yourself with identify recovery insurance coverage that helps restore your good name if someone steals your personal information. Talk to a professional like an Erie Insurance Agent to learn more about this important (and affordable) coverage.

Read the full story from Erie Insurance: “Coming Soon: Emoji Passwords?