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What is Face Authentication and How Does it Differ from Face Identification?

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Face recognition is a popular topic right now. And since it’s a relatively new topic, it makes sense that there is still some confusion regarding the related terminology. We’ve already covered the difference between face recognition and face detection in another article. Now it’s time to explore two even more closely related terms: face authentication and face identification. Let’s start by saying that face authentication and face identification are both forms of face recognition. However, there are some important differences, which we explore in this article.

We can name two different types of biometric technologies that are used to measure facial characteristics, these are verification and identification. In this article we are going to define the differences, outline meanings and get you to understand what each of them mean.

Face authentication:

Is the term that refers to the process of using facial images to determine whether someone is, in fact, who they say they are (as well as whether they are authorized for a particular purpose). In this process, two images are matched to determine whether they are of the same person. It takes the form of one-to-one matching. This process can be described as both verification and identification, as it primarily answers the question: Do you have access?

Some examples of face authentication include:

  • Using Face ID to unlock your smartphone
  • Using a selfie to authorize a mobile payment
  • Submitting a selfie along with a copy of your ID to prove your identity when opening a bank account online


Face Verification:

Fce Verification can be described as a process of making sure that the claimed face that has been scanned by identity measurement software is correct based on comparison of this face to the given database of faces. The given database is usually used to store previously enrolled facial templates. 

It has to be noted that some sources indicate that face verification is a synonym of face authentication, and in some cases it can follow the same working principle and answer the same question, but we also have to point out that authentication is a bit different. In other words face verification is responsible for comparing one face to another and its primary objective can be debriefed via answering the question: is that you? 

Some examples of face verification include:

  • Comparing one particular face to another
  • Gaining access via facial database match 


Face identification:

This term refers to the process of using facial recognition to determine someone’s identity. It relies on one-to-many matching, and answers the question: Who is this person or in other words, who are you? In this process, a facial image is compared to a database of images to find a match.

Some examples of face identification include:

  • Using facial recognition instead of a boarding pass to determine whether someone is allowed to board a plane at the airport
  • Using facial recognition to determine whether someone is on a blacklist
  • In security systems, using facial recognition to identify whether a person whose image is captured is on a suspect list, for example
  • Using facial recognition to admit guests to an event based on a guest list

How to use face authentication and identification in your own systems

With solutions like Sightcorp’s FaceMatch SDK, you can easily integrate face authentication and/or identification into your existing systems.

FaceMatch SDK consists of cross-platform software libraries, which a C++ developer can use to integrate these functionalities into systems running on Windows, Linux, and soon also Android.

While FaceMatch can be used in a wide range of scenarios, it has been created with a specific focus on the following areas of application:

  • Know Your Customer (KYC)
  • Payment Verification
  • Access Control


Some of the major benefits of using FaceMatch SDK for face recognition include:

  • Industry-leading performance, with high rates of accuracy
  • Customizability, with the option to retrain on own customers’ data
  • Affordability, with a usage-based pricing model
  • Complete control over the data collected, since data processing takes place locally (Sightcorp has no access to the data)

Learn More About FaceMatch

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About the Author
Sightcorp is an AI spin-off from the University of Amsterdam specializing in face analysis & face recognition software. Through computer vision and deep learning, Sightcorp can analyze and recognize faces in images, videos, and in real-time.