What is Biometric Verification?

The term “biometrics” refers to the practice of measuring and analyzing unique physical and behavioral characteristics of people. For example, hand geometry and fingerprints are unique biometric traits. 

These traits are used in biometric verification processes, which are designed to authenticate and verify identities. Biometric verification technology is typically implemented as an identification and access control. It can also be used for age verification, identity verification, and many other use cases.

In this article, you will learn:

6 Types of Biometric Verification

Here are the primary methods used for biometric verification.

1. Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is a biometric authentication method based on human biology. People use facial recognition on a daily basis, when trying to identify family members and friends and distinguish between familiar faces and strangers. Digital facial recognition processes attempt to perform a similar function.

Facial recognition software scans faces and analyzes the geometry of each face. The software analyzes the distance between elements in the face. For example, the distance between each eye, and between the nose and chin. Then, the software creates a digital model for facial data. When authenticating, the software scans the face in real-time and then compares the generated model to others that were previously stored in the database. 

2. Fingerprint Recognition

Law enforcement agencies have been using fingerprints for identification purposes for a long time now, but manually. Fingerprint recognition software provides a digitized alternative. The software analyzes the ridges and patterns of the fingerprint and then creates a digital model. Then, the software can compare the model against any future authentication attempts.

3. Eye Recognition

There are two main ways to authenticate identity according to eye features—iris recognition and retina recognition. During retina scans, an authenticator briefly shines light into the eye, illuminating the unique patterns of blood vessels in the eye. 

The software creates a map of this pattern, and then compares each new authentication attempt against the original. Iris recognition works in a similar way. The main difference is that an iris scanner analyzes the colored rings in the iris, rather than blood vessel patterns.

4. Voice Recognition

Voice recognition software analyzes the sound of a user’s voice. The software then uses the length of the user’s vocal tract and the shape of their larynx, nose, and mouth to determine a unique voice, and compare a new recording to a user’s pre-recorded voice. 

5. Hand Geometry

Hand geometry identification processes analyze and measure the shape of an user’s hand. This method is ideal when a large number of users need to access the system on a regular basis—for example, it is commonly used at airports. It has a relatively high accuracy rate.

6. Signature Recognition

Signature recognition processes attempt to identify users by analyzing their handwriting. It involves two main methods of signature analysis:

  • Static analysis processes—compare one scanned signature to an ink signature or another scanned signature. 
  • Dynamic signature processes—analyze the behavioral characteristics displayed by the individual as they create the signature. Digital signature scanners are often used by banking institutions and retail stores.

Biometrics Use Cases

Law Enforcement and Public Security

Biometric systems are increasingly used by law enforcement agencies. This category of solutions may include criminal identification solutions, such as automatic fingerprint (and palm print) identification systems (AFIS). They store, search, and retrieve images and subject records.

Today, automated biometric identification systems (ABIS) can generate and store biometric information that matches biometric templates of faces (using mugshot systems), fingers, and irises.

Commercial Applications

Know Your Customer (KYC) verification is a mandatory process for verifying and identifying the identity of customers for regulated or age restricted products and services. Organizations should run this check regularly and when customers open a new account. KYC can help prevent financial crimes, money laundering, and illicit access to adult-only products by minors.

Biometric verification can help banks, FinTech organizations, and telecom operators to perform the necessary KYC checks in a more efficient manner. This became especially important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented customers from physically arriving at stores and banks, and caused many services to transition online.

To ensure secure transactions, organizations and financial institutions have started offering a user-friendly onboarding process that includes facial recognition, as a key element of identity verification.

Related content: Read our guide to age verification systems

Physical and Logical Access Control

A biometric access control system can help prevent unauthorized access to facilities (as a measure of physical access control) and to networks and computer systems (as a logical access control based on biometric authentication).

In the IT world, biometric access control is an additional user authentication component that can support the identity and access control (IAM) policies of the organization. Unlike access cards that rely on codes, static passwords, one-time passwords, or data that can be forgotten or lost, biometrics depend on who the person is rather than what they have.

Pros and Cons of Biometric Authentication

Pros

Here are several pros of biometric authentication:

Identity Assurance

Traditional authentication methods like SMS-based 2FA and knowledge base authentication (KBA) cannot truly validate the identity of the person setting up the account or logging in. This is because identity theft and data breaches provide the information necessary to bypass these methods. Biometric authentication methods like facial recognition, on the other hand, are not as easy to bypass. 

Learn more in our detailed guide to ID check online 

Ease of Use

As consumers become more closely attached to their smartphones, biometric authentication becomes more easy to use. This is largely due to Apple’s Face ID, which allows users to authenticate and log in by using face recognition. Samsung and other vendors provide similar technology. These biometric authentication methods are now used in many devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Fraud Detection

Biometric authentication verifies users by analyzing features that are unique to each individual. This type of authentication is difficult to bypass, much more than a simple password login. Biometrics can serve as a deterrent against criminals, who would hesitate to commit fraudulent activities knowing that biometric identity verification is used.

Cons

Data Breaches

Threat actors constantly target organizations and government agencies that collect and store personal data. Since biometric data is irreplaceable, it must be properly secured and handled with caution. Unfortunately, securing biometrics can be technically difficult and expensive. A compromise password can be easily changed. A user’s behavioral or physiological biometric traits, on the other hand, cannot be modified. 

Privacy Issues

The biometric data of users should not only be secured. It should also be handled in a way that ensures the data remains private. This type of data should not be passed between entities, as it can be used to accurately track these individuals. Once a biometric is used, its digital record can be used for surveillance purposes by countries as well as by threat actors. These actions should not be performed without the consent of individuals.

Biometric Verification with BlueCheck

BlueCheck’s industry leading identity verification infrastructure enables merchants to grow their business faster. Serving a wide variety of industries, our solutions are custom tailored to the unique needs of our customers, including PACT Act and eCommerce compliant offerings. 

Schedule a call with a BlueCheck specialist to learn more about our Age & ID Verification solutions. Ask about price savings when bundled with Payment Processing services.