Facial biometrics
Facial biometrics
Facial biometrics

4 questions about facial biometrics

Mar 27, 2024

Since the advent of the digital era, technology has been progressing at a dizzying pace, redefining the way we interact with the world around us. Among the most remarkable advancements is facial biometrics, a technology that is already revolutionizing our daily lives. Imagine a world where your face replaces your keys, your bank cards, your identifiers, your passwords… That's precisely what facial biometrics promises: a recognition method based on the unique characteristics of our faces.

What is facial biometrics and how does it work?

Facial biometrics is a technology for recognizing and identifying individuals based on the analysis and measurement of various facial elements such as the distance between the eyes, the shape of the nose, the size of the lips, etc. These characteristics are then converted into digital data to create a unique biometric model of each individual.

In practice, the facial biometrics process generally consists of several steps:

  • Image or video capture: A camera records the individual's face.

  • Extraction of facial features: Once the image is captured, the facial biometrics system analyzes and extracts distinctive facial features called "landmarks" or "facial vectors."

  • Conversion to digital data: The extracted facial features are converted into digital data, often in the form of a set of numbers or vectors that uniquely represent each face.

  • Comparison and verification: When a person presents themselves later, their face is captured and their facial features are extracted to create a temporary model. This model is then compared to the biometric models stored in the database to find a match.

  • Decision: Based on the match, a decision is made to identify/authenticate the person or not.

How does facial biometrics help combat identity fraud?

Liveness detection

The first application of facial biometrics to combat identity fraud is liveness detection. This is where the real challenge lies. Biometric solutions are all capable of finding a match with the biometric characteristics (previously recorded) of a person, but how can we ensure that they are actually in the process of identifying themselves?

Because a fraudster could simply print a photo or manipulate a video of the targeted person, and there you go! The fraudster could even go further by creating a very realistic photo or video of the person with artificial intelligence!

This is where liveness detection comes into play. By analyzing media characteristics such as facial texture or micro-expressions, it ensures that the right person is physically present in front of the camera. Learn more about different types of facial biometrics attacks in this article.

Facial comparison

The second way to combat identity fraud is facial comparison.

  • The user first takes a photo of their identity document.

  • Facial biometrics technology extracts the person's face.

  • The user then takes a photo or video of their face.

  • The facial biometrics solution compares the two media to determine if it is the same person.

Age estimation

A third measure to combat identity fraud is age estimation. Here, facial biometrics analyzes a person's face and determines if there is a match with a given age range.

What are the most common use cases for facial biometrics?

Facial biometrics is a useful solution for making the digital world safer. Because how can you be sure that your interlocutor is really who they claim to be?

Individual onboarding

One of the most common uses of facial biometrics is digital onboarding, which is the process by which an entity welcomes and integrates a new person remotely. This could be a bank helping a new client open an online account, an HR service welcoming a new employee, a school enrolling a new student, etc. Facial biometrics thus ensures that the person with whom the entity is interacting is really who they should be.

Payments and banking transactions

Another classic use case of facial biometrics is online payment. Authenticating the end customer secures transactions in a world where identity fraud costs millions of euros to both individuals and companies. Furthermore, facial biometrics could ultimately replace traditional payment methods such as bank cards. Several large retailers have been testing this payment system for a few months now: the customer registers their banking and biometric data via an application, then simply scans their face when paying. A frictionless and secure shopping experience.

Access control

Facial biometrics is also effective for access control. This system has already existed for some time to prevent intrusions into buildings that require high security measures, but what about the digital world? We have seen that facial biometrics can authenticate a user to access, for example, their bank account or the internal communication platform in a professional context, but it can go further. Indeed, thanks to age verification by facial biometrics, some websites can block access to the user when a minimum age is required to access their services, such as sports betting sites or adult content.

What are the challenges of facial biometrics?

Artificial intelligence and deepfakes

Facial biometrics, like many current technologies, faces major challenges due to the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), manifested by the proliferation of deepfakes.

AI advancements have led to the creation of hyper-realistic synthetic videos and images, which can deceive facial biometrics systems for malicious purposes. The recent theft of health data from over 33 million French citizens has shown how identity fraud is a real danger to society. These so-called injection attacks are therefore a priority for facial biometrics solutions to stay at the forefront of technology.

Biases related to age, gender, and ethnic origin

Another challenge that facial biometrics may face is the accuracy of its analyses with certain populations. An algorithm is only as intelligent as the data it integrates to improve; providing diversified databases, both in terms of age and ethnic origins, is essential to ensure optimal security for facial biometrics.

Personal data

The challenges of facial biometrics regarding the protection of personal data require particular attention to ensure that this technology is used ethically, securely, and respectfully of privacy. The collected data is extremely sensitive (we are talking about a person's face and identity documents), so the consequences of hacking or mishandling can be disastrous. Compliance with international cybersecurity standards as well as regulations on the protection of personal data is a prerequisite to guarantee trust in facial biometrics solutions.


As you can see, facial biometrics is becoming indispensable in light of the risks associated with identity fraud. Several solutions exist on the market; find out in this article how to choose the best partner !