Voice of the Industry

Enabling fraud prevention with advances in biometrics and Liveness detection

Friday 5 August 2022 09:30 CET | Editor: Raluca Ochiana | Voice of the industry

Advances in biometrics and Liveness detection enable fraud prevention while building confidence to reduce friction for ‘good’ consumers. Jay Meier, SVP of North American Operations from FaceTec, reveals more.

'By requiring both Liveness and matching data to be present in future authentications, FaceTec renders the remaining matching-only data virtually useless to thieves.'

Why has biometrics usage, specifically face biometrics, surged in the last several years?

The pandemic accelerated usage because remote access became the only option, and the push for new-user face verification and ongoing authentication followed. Humans evolved to recognise 3D faces well because they contain a lot of unique data. They’ve become the biometric of choice for remote digital identity.

Additionally, identity documents use face images to bind the credentials to the human, and all driver licenses, national ID cards, and passports rely on facial images to associate them with their legal owner.

Can you name the types of fraud that occur at onboarding (verifying and authenticating) customers digitally?

There are many, but generally, it’s a fraudster masquerading as someone they’re not. Money laundering, government benefits, and credit card fraud plague modern society. Criminal organisations move laundered money through accounts and cryptocurrency exchanges using real people’s names, who are unaware an account was opened. This fraud is enabled and perpetuated by inadequate identity verification at account creation.

Another huge type of fraud is account takeover, where fraudsters assume the identity of legitimate account owners, and weak user authentication allows control to fall into the wrong hands. From there, value can be extracted by stealing data, or ransom demands. Attack vectors such as weak/stolen passwords, redirected SMS messages, and social engineering make this fraud possible.

How big is this problem and how is it affecting the financial world? 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated proceeds from US financial crime were USD 300 bln in 2010 (~2% of GDP). Healthcare, mortgage, retail, consumer, securities, and tax fraud, plus identity theft, generate the most volume. Other significant sources are drug and human trafficking, organised crime, and public corruption. As of 2020, the estimate for money laundered from illegal activities is 2-5% of global GDP annually.

How can solutions like FaceTec’s fight those? With what results?

FaceTec provides strong identity verification at account creation and strong identity re-verification during subsequent logins. Our 3D face biometrics provide superior Liveness detection and incredibly accurate matching on all modern smart devices, and PCs with webcams, with no observable race, gender, or age bias.

Regulated industries must not only verify an identity exists, but also that the person presenting the identity documents is their rightful owner. Unfortunately in the US, Know Your Customer regulations don’t require that the human providing the identity documentation proves their true presence with a Liveness check and selfie match. But that trend appears to be changing, and Liveness-proven face biometric data is the single-best way to accomplish this remotely, and that need isn’t going away.

A FaceTec 3D FaceScan® ensures that the person issued the photo ID matches the trusted face image from the issuing authority. Additionally, whenever an account holder needs access to their account, they simply perform another video selfie that renders into another Liveness-proven 3D FaceMap® and then is matched to the 3D FaceMap from enrolment. It is the single-best method to prevent unauthorised access. 

How is biometric data stored? 

Biometric data is generally stored as image data, like a photo, or as biometric templates (a mathematical derivative of the image). They’re stored by DMVs, State Departments, and on servers, smartphones, and computers.

There’s always a concern that biometric data could be stolen, but most people already have hundreds of their images online. So, access is no longer the biggest concern. The biggest concern is having strong Liveness detection to ensure images or videos (online with or without consent) can’t be replayed and used for impersonation. Liveness detection means photos or videos aren’t enough to pass muster, only the real, live, 3D you suffice.

Though Liveness mitigates threats from leaked or breached photos, it’s still best to store only redacted biometric data. So, while FaceTec’s software collects Liveness and matching data concurrently, once the user’s Liveness is confirmed, the Liveness data is deleted, leaving only matching data. By requiring both Liveness and matching data to be present in future authentications, FaceTec renders the remaining matching-only data virtually useless to thieves, because without the Liveness data, access will be denied instantly. FaceTec may be the only face biometrics vendor that promotes separating and deleting Liveness data to ensure organisations don’t create biometric honeypots.

What direction is biometrics going? How is FaceTec supporting it? 

More people now realise that passwords, SMS, two-factor, and other knowledge-based authentication layers don’t verify a user’s identity. As the SolarWinds and Okta hacks illustrated, without a strong biometric security layer the wrong person can gain access using stolen credentials at any time.

We’re seeing rapid adoption of our 3D Face Liveness and Face Matching software. FaceTec now provides more than 600M 3D Liveness checks annually and is growing fast. Note, these are 3D Liveness checks, not 2D. For years many vendors sold insecure 2D Liveness and biased 2D face matching, but recently Unite.ai exposed how weak 2D Liveness is now just a nuisance for hackers. 3D Liveness and 3D Matching technology, along with proper on-prem architecture, solves long-standing problems. Governments now use Liveness-proven biometrics for important deployments, and digital identity credentials like mobile driver licenses are already here. Acceleration of 3D Liveness-proven biometrics for identity proofing, verification, and authentication will only continue.


This editorial was first published in our Financial Crime and Fraud Report 2022, which showcases the innovation and development of the best practices and instruments used by financial institutions in their fraud prevention activities, to improve the digital onboarding process of their customers while fighting against financial crime. 

About Jay Meier

Jay Meier is an award-winning financial securities analyst and subject matter expert in identity access management, credentialing, and biometrics. He currently serves as FaceTec’s SVP of North American Operations.



About FaceTec

FaceTec is the leading provider of 3D Face Verification and Authentication software. FaceTec's patented, Certified 3D Liveness Detection, face matching, optical character recognition, barcode/NFC chip scanning, and age estimation technology binds a unique, live user to their digital accounts with proprietary biometrics, creating a secure chain of trust for mobile and web applications.

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Keywords: digital identity, digital onboarding, fraud prevention, biometric authentication, identity verification
Categories: Fraud & Financial Crime
Companies: FaceTec
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Fraud & Financial Crime


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