The Importance of Face Verification for Digital Identity Security

Face verification may now be a fun way to unlock your smart devices and play dress-up, but it was meant to be a deterrent for data theft and to ease user onboarding. Including face ID verification as part of your identity verification solution for Know Your Customer (KYC) can be a smart move. As face verification gets embraced into our everyday lives, some of us have forgotten the history and overlying purpose it plays in anti-money laundering (AML) and digital identity security.


Difference between Face Verification and Face Recognition


Face recognition and face verification are used almost interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. To understand the differences, one simply has to understand the meanings of recognition and verification. Recognition is all about recognizing the face and verification is about matching an identity to the face.

Maybe the confusion over face recognition and face verification stems from the fact that face recognition has a history and face verification is only a recent term. Because of that history, we know more about face recognition than its descendant face verification. Though face recognition is used to identify and verify a person’s identity, in terms of identity verification solutions, it’s called face verification.


Face Recognition

Face Verification

Face detection uses biometrics along with various algorithm techniques to identify a face. Based on the type of algorithm, it can detect motion, skin and eye color, and the full face from a distance. Some algorithms can also unravel blurred images, and adjust for lighting sources, backgrounds, and other people.

While face recognition is used to find a face in a crowd, video, or image, face verification pushes the algorithm further to match the physical face to a known identity. Face verification uses biometric authentication to verify a person’s identity against known sources. Simply put, it matches your live face against credible sources whereas recognition involves identifying the face, be it live or not.


The funny thing about face recognition technology is that a lot of millennials view it as tech created in their era. When in fact, facial recognition research started way back in the 1950s. It was already being used way before the millennials arrived. One thing millennials can take credit for is the various applications for face recognition.


Uses of Face Recognition


As much as many of us admire face recognition as a cute feature on our smart devices, face verification does so much more for digital identity security. However, that doesn’t lessen the risks facial recognition apps put all their users in for entertainment. And with some major corporations refusing to share their data with law enforcement officials, what exactly is your face recognition data being used for?


Global ID Verification

Facial verification systems are installed at airports, borders, and points of entry into countries, states, and regions. As people move through these points of entry and across public spaces, security systems are equipped with facial detection and recognition software ready to identify those who try to evade the system. Due to its cross-border nature, it needs global ID verification capabilities to get the job done.

The Importance of Face Verification for Digital Identity Security

Real-Time Identity Verification

Law enforcement agencies were one of the first adaptors of face verification and continue to push for its widespread adaptation across the globe in the name of digital identity security. This is why they are always clamoring for access to private corporate facial verification systems to increase match success. Real-time identity verification is a crucial factor for these agencies.


Age Verification

One place face ID verification can be put to good use is on online gaming and gambling platforms. Facial verification systems can protect minors while being a deterrent to bad actors who have a tendency to infiltrate these sites. Age verification will keep minors out of age-restricted sites and reduce the impact of scammers who love to pretend to be kids.


KYC Verification and AML Compliance

Next to global security, automated KYC verification is the best use of face verification. As part of your user or customer onboarding strategy, face verification can be part of your permanent digital identity security system. In banking or other high-risk industries with assets to protect, global ID verification will give your face verification system an added edge in terms of asset protection and transaction monitoring. You can choose to implement your own face verification system (a bad idea) or outsource from a face verification service.


Mobile Face Verification

Do you want to find out who is related to you or not? There’s a face app for that. It’s one of many face recognition apps that perform different functions depending on the algorithm. For instance, popular face recognition apps like AppLock which allows users to unlock their smart device, and FaceAPP which allows them to change their identity can be utilized for mobile face verification.

What your face verification system is capable of will be based on the type of algorithm that guides it. How the data is used will be based on the people controlling the face verification system. And many of the benefits or problems with face verification will be based on the algorithm and the people that control the system.


Benefits of Face Verification


Face verification is rooted in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning and when used correctly there are a lot of good things that can come from that. In the last few years, there has been a push into the blockchain which has the potential to redefine face verification and digital identity security. Even without the addition of blockchain, there are still a lot of benefits of using face verification.

  • Safer online
  • Improved security systems for law enforcement
  • Better picture quality with camera autofocus
  • Smoother user and customer onboarding
  • Age verification
  • Automated KYC
  • Improved digital identity management

Overall, the convenience of not remembering passwords or looking for keys

In fact, many of the uses of face recognition and the benefits we reap with face verification. The convenience of not having to memorize passwords and the connectivity of global ID verification makes a huge difference in our personal data security and how we do business. Real-time identity verification gives us the ability to validate the ID in real-time and save lives that could have been lost to human trafficking and protect the vulnerable in our society.

Though we love those facial recognition apps that allow us to unlock phones, make silly faces, and play games, improved digital identity management is supposed to be one of the major benefits of face verification. However, unsecured face recognition applications have made digital identity security a challenge. And knowing cybercriminals, it won’t be long until your child’s biometric features can be aged to open his adult accounts.


The Trouble with Facial Verification Systems


Of course, once you are dealing with ever-changing technology, there are going to be a few hiccups along the way. Ironically, what held back the development of face verification was technology, public fear, and proper databases for comprehensive global ID verification. Even with everything in place, face verification can be your best bet for digital identity security or your worst.

Because after all, the human factor is still involved, and with it comes a bit of trouble. One particular irony of face verification is that it can actually end up not matching faces! And while we can expect some technical issues, sadly having the technology used for ill, is something all developers and users must be wary of.


Mismatches and Poor Match Rates

As mentioned before, 100% perfection isn’t expected, but 58% means a child had better chances of identifying that person than that algorithm did. The harsh reality of the facial verifications systems industry is that miss-matches and low match rates do exist. Glitches, settings issues, database access, and compatible software and hardware makes acquiring higher match rates more difficult.


Digital Identity Management

To acquire high match rates, you need access to a database that is credible and has validated images of the individual like the U.S. Department of State. And that is the problem with most facial verification services. No credible database and no access to one. Then there is the added nightmare of improper security around the faceprint data that can lead to leaks, stalking, and identity theft.


Altered or Tampered Images

As the technology evolves there is becoming less and less of an issue with altered or tampered images. However, as technology evolves, altered images are getting more sophisticated over time. Not only that, but masks also as we have been wearing for the last two years, can complicate matters when attempting to match a complete image. Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) allows face recognition app users to alter their faces and that is why most of the data generated on these apps are practically useless, but not harmless.


Bias and Privacy Concerns

There is a lot of concern around the management of faceprint data and rightly so. Even government security agencies can’t guarantee absolute protection. Tech giants like Google and Apple go to extreme lengths to protect personal data even from potential governmental interference. And they may be right in their approach as government agencies have been found in putting their human biases into the system leading to racial profiling and increased miss-matches.


Marketing Data Collection

Research and data are necessary for continued success in marketing. How that data is collected and used is another matter altogether. Imagine walking past a TV and based on the recognition software, you are now bombarded with ads that match your assumed age, race, and gender. That is how far marketing data collection has become and though it benefits marketers and businesses, customers are not fully on board with using their facial images to sell them goods and services.


Face Verification as Part of Your Identity Verification Solution


Despite the fears over privacy, bias, deep fakes, and racial profiling, face verification is already a part of our everyday existence in cameras, smart devices, machine-readable passports, and other forms of face ID. So, embracing face ID verification is not the real issue, using it correctly is. In fact, many of the problems with face ID verification stemmed from its users and applications.

A face verification system is supposed to have a match rate of a minimum of 91%. Anything with an error rate above 9% needs to be re-tested and should not be considered an identity verification solution. Pay attention to the level of human involvement in guiding the application. Too many increases the risk of biases and mismatches.

That’s why our face verification APIs have limited human interaction with no racial demographic segmenting to reduce bias. Control and access to large credible global databases increase our match rates to 95%.

IDMscan is not just about face verification. IDMscan validates documents and when paired with IDMdevice and IDMaml, it is a complete identity verification solution for customer onboarding and AML compliance. Providing real-time identity verification, device fingerprinting, and watchlist screening to identify potential bad actors.

Biometric identification is the future of digital identity security. And though using the last thing that is uniquely yours to safeguard your personal and business data, seems like taking an unnecessary risk, done correctly it can be the highest form of protection you’ll have to date. All it takes is reaching out to an expert at IDMERIT to learn how we can develop a secure face verification system for your business.

Let Us Prove It! Contact us, today!

Tony Raval
Tony Raval

Tony Raval brings more than 15 years of leadership in data technology as the Founder and CEO of IDMERIT, headquartered in Carlsbad, California. He leads an executive team including top data tech veterans to execute on his passion of creating a global data universe generating true and trusted intelligence. IDMERIT’s competitive success has come from the company’s ability to perform cross-border transactions, for which Tony and his team have developed a meticulous process and progressive technology. The company was launched as the result of a highly effective engagement with a leading global financial institution, whereby the company was uniquely able to triangulate multiple elements to create a comprehensive, and yet, frictionless experience. Tony has provided data intelligence to companies such as Google, SalesForce, and HP as well as clients across financial, government and other sectors seeking a superior partner in compliance and mitigating risk. He holds a Master’s Degree in computer engineering and data sciences, is an active member of the Entrepreneurs Organization San Diego and dedicated mentor to new entrepreneurs in EO’s Accelerator Program, enjoys meditation and running, and he and his wife Sonal recently celebrated their three-year-old son's birthday.

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