Facial Recognition vs Facial Authentication

Facial Recognition vs Facial Authentication

Facial recognition and facial authentication both provide businesses with a way of identity verification for their customers, but there seems to be a lot of confusion around the differences between the two methods.

So what is the difference between facial recognition and facial authentication, and how can businesses benefits?

Facial recognition: Biometric software application that is capable of uniquely identifying or verifying a person by comparing and analysing the patterns based on their facial contours.

Facial authentication: Form of biometric authentication that relies on the unique biological characteristics of an individual to verify identity.

Both methods provide users with omnichannel support, allowing them to use mobile and desktop applications, which reduces friction and improves the user experience – and both are utilised for identity verification, but let’s discuss their differences in detail.


Facial recognition

Facial recognition is highly data-intense and does not require user consent.

This method should not be used for identity verification purposes, but more as an additional feature when accessing accounts, i.e. as an added step for two-factor authentication to strengthen user access. It is not designed with identity proofing in mind and should not be used for matching a low-quality identity document photo with a high-quality selfie as the results may not be correct or consistent.

Utilising facial recognition is not perfect – for example, if a user is wearing glasses or a hat, the results of the recognition can be affected. 

Facial recognition accuracy can vary significantly based on a wide range of factors, such as camera quality, light, distance, database size and algorithm.

Liveness checks are also likely to be invalid when utilising facial recognition. For example, a fraudster could be showing a photo of a user rather than actually being present at the time of the facial recognition being used, but the account could still be accessed or created.

There is a stipulation around facial recognition that as it is not permission-based, it is not a secure method – entering a password is giving secure explicit permission, but just putting a device in front of your face and allowing it to unlock your accounts, is seen as a security nightmare. As mentioned earlier, photographs or masks can also trick facial recognition software which, of course, causes security issues. 

For example, picking up your mobile device can unlock it even when you don’t want to open or use it – or even when somebody else holds your device up in front of you.


Facial authentication

Providing users with stronger fraud detection, facial authentication provides a high-level of security for accessing accounts, reducing account takeover, identity theft and fraud losses. 

Facial authentication is permission-based and tends to be used as more of a verification method, such as a replacement for a username and password to access an account. For example, to log in to a user’s online banking account, they may no longer be required to use a password, but rather a facial authentication. 

In order to set up facial authentication to access accounts, the user is asked to take a selfie which is then 3D mapped to match the user’s unique biological characteristics – and stored within the device ready for the next time they try to access their account. 

Facial authentication, for both users and businesses, is a win-win situation. It provides a permission-based high-level security measure to a user, whilst simultaneously allowing them to seamlessly access their accounts and devices. 

Once facial authentication has been set up, the user isn’t required to go through the identity verification process again, all they have to do is hold their device up to their face and take a new selfie to access their desired accounts.

As with most things, facial recognition and authentication are linked to cybercrimes. It’s true, hackers will more than likely steal your face if they are given the opportunity. 


How we can help

Looking at traditional methods of identity verification, such as two-factor authentication or utilising paper bills, are outdated and not as reliable as more modern, live checks. 

Businesses, especially in emerging markets like cryptocurrency, are now looking to modernise their identity verification processes in order to keep up-to-date and enable themselves to verify and onboard new customers – and this is what their customers are expecting. 

Acuant’s BioMatch allows businesses to carry out a facial match check on a customer to add an additional layer of security in real-time. Book a demo today and learn how seamless this solution is.


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