Face value: iPhone X adopts facial recognition

Facial recognition technology is a key feature of the new Apple iPhone X

First published on October 25, 2017

​Apple's latest iPhone – the iPhone X – launched to the usual fanfare.

The smartphone's new design features a 5.8 inch edge-to edge display screen, vertical camera, wireless charging, increased storage capacity and a new augmented reality feature. But perhaps the design feature that caused the biggest stir was the replacement of the iconic home button and finger print scanner for facial recognition technology.

As far as biometric identification goes, this is perhaps the most high profile use of physiological biometrics so far on the market, though not a new feature by any means. Samsung already make use of features such as an iris scan and facial recognition in some of their devices.

The iPhone X's facial recognition technology enables the user to unlock the phone, customize animated emojis and pay through ApplePay. In terms of security, Apple point to the use of a "secure enclave" – a secure element for storing sensitive information used for facial recognition or payment.

The use of biometric identification is increasing as companies focus on KYC (Know Your Customer) in an attempt to avoid identity theft and fraud.

Identity fraud on the rise

Javelin Strategy & Research's 2017 Identity Fraud Study, found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, compared with $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier. In the past six years, identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion.

Biometric authentication is increasing in use with companies such as AirBnB and Monzo Bank embracing the use of identity verification technology in an effort to improve their service to customers. AirBnB use milti-factor authentication to prevent scammers from taking over host accounts. Meanwhile, Monzo Bank has partnered with online mobile payments and identity verification company Jumio to verify both new and existing customers. Jumio also deals in facial recognition technology to ensure customers meet regulatory compliance and are not fraudulent.

Apple's new technology comes at a price; when it goes on sale in early November, the iPhone X will range from £999 for a 64GB model, up to £1,149 for the 256GB version, heralding the era of the £1,000 smartphone.

In an age where identity theft is becoming a bigger issue, this presents the question: what is the price of our security, and how safe is facial recognition?

TAGGED IN mobile; smartphone apps; biometrics; identity and access; data security