The selfie is extremely popular today. People generally spend 7 minutes a day taking selfies. 92 million selfies are taken every day. Also, over 95% of all young adults have taken one. These are interesting stats. With so many selfies being taken and fintech platforms requiring that adults add selfies to their profile, identity verification will become more prevalent in the future. Selfie identity verification (a kind of face recognition) is already used across Fintech, gaming and crypto apps. 

In 2020, the face recognition market was worth $3.8 billion. However, the value will increase sharply to as much as $8.5 billion by 2025. About 37% of the global market value for face recognition resides in North America. And since Apple introduced FaceID, public confidence in face recognition technology has increased. Almost 73% of US adults believe that face recognition is very accurate. The selfie has become an indispensable tool for ID verification.

Why are identity verification solutions in demand?

Are there other reasons why biometric and other identity verification methods are on the rise? Yes, the second reason why biometric technologies are popular today is due to the large number of frauds. Identity theft reports went up by 3% in 2021, compared to the year before it. Identity verification solutions can help battle identity theft and other frauds. 

Fourth, there are an increased number of malware attacks. These are usually embedded in online links or attachments. Biometric-based identification can help rule out these hacks. Fifth, almost everyone has a smartphone, and it is equipped with biometric sensors. So why not just use that? Lastly, selfies are difficult to duplicate especially within a KYC process in a mobile app. This has increased the popularity of mobile apps, which today are more secure than before.

Selfie identity verification: How it happens

Now let’s look at the selfie verification process itself. In the selfie verification process, a person uploads his/her picture within an app. This will help to establish the identity of the individual as a first step to providing a loan. It could also help adding assets for trading on crypto or activating an account for online gaming etc. 

The organization or institution providing you access then evaluates the picture that you have uploaded. The comparison is made against an original obtained from a government source. This will help to verify your identity. A government ID must also be provided. The user is granted access after evaluating the picture and the ID. At times, additional verification using an OTP (one-time password) is also done.

Selfies are satisfactory for a majority of the institutions in the fintech and crypto domains. However, few of them would still conduct an automated or human-assisted Video KYC. Here you would be asked several questions by a human agent or a chatbot and the authoritativeness of the documents will be established.

Friction within the selfie identity verification process

When it works, selfie ID verification is amazing. All you need is the correct face recognition software and a compatible website or app. There is hesitancy to use selfie ID verification because of two primary reasons:

For organizations: Less individuals may complete the registration/login process. Some people find the technology intimidating, while others just find the procedure long and tiresome. Submitting documents can take time, and there are possibilities that a few customers can get bogged down by this and churn. Use a KYC process that guarantees smooth onboarding to overcome this problem and improve conversions.

For the end customer: Selfie identity verification is very beneficial when done correctly and securely. This is not always assured, and there lies the problem. It is possible that bad actors can, through hacks, acquire the selfies and other information that individuals post on an app. They can reuse such data for obtaining loans, making illegal transactions etc.

Other methods of digital ID verification

ID documents – An official government ID is essential to validate identity. This could be a driver’s license, a voter’s ID or any other similar kind of proof. An OCR (optical character recognition) system then scans the ID. 

Liveness detection – In passive liveness detection technique, you need not move your face in order to confirm your identity, but must be active in front of the camera. 

Captcha detection – You may have to solve a captcha as well. These captcha drills eliminate logins from bots.

Trusted identity network – Third-party businesses help confirming identity using methods of their own. How do they do this? They attest that the identity of the user is real by adding checks and verifications of their own in the process.

Multi-factor authentication – This is most often used for a simple login to gain access to a drive etc. It involves entering not just the username and password. An additional authentication is performed. For instance, the user would have to enter a one-time password sent by the verifying authority to a known email address or phone number. 

Other biometric methods – Other biometric methods of authentication can also be used, such as an iris scan or a fingerprint. Both methods are very accurate but can be duplicated easily. An iris scan can be hacked by wearing a contact lens with the print. A fingerprint system can be duped with an impression of the fingerprint.   

Benefits of selfie identity verification

There is incredible power in the selfie! This form of identity verification has held itself out for so long. This is despite inaccuracies in face recognition in the earlier years. The reasons: ease of use, speed of onboarding, and the growing popularity of mobiles with high resolution cameras. There are several benefits to the selfie identity verification that is used today:

  1. Face recognition software is very accurate because of the powerful, well-trained AI behind it. With a false non-match rate of only 0.0025, HyperVerge is a good example. This puts it on par with the leader in the NIST rankings for mugshots. 
  2. Most software also helps tighten the KYC process, reducing friction for regular and genuine customers and increasing friction for high-risk cases. 
  3. The KYC process, which could also include liveness detection, helps to ensure that a large number of customers are onboard without sacrificing accuracy. 
  4. Most of these face recognition systems are also built to be GDPR-compliant and 256-bit encrypted end-to-end for data security.
  5. Most of the selfie verification and other face recognition systems are AML compliant. This helps stop the flow of illegal money in the market.

Closing words

With selfie identity verification, digital lenders and crypto exchanges have struck gold. They have found a means of identity verification difficult to dupe. They have found something that keeps malware at bay and modern end-to-end encryption that keeps the data secure. The next is the savings in money. HyperVerge has saved millions in losses due to fraud detection for several organizations in Southeast Asia with its face recognition and OCR platforms.


What is a real-time selfie?

In a real-time selfie, the customer captures the image of the ID, and then submits a selfie. Sometimes, the selfie is submitted while holding the ID in their hand. The image in the selfie is compared with the image in the ID and if they match, then access is granted.

Can you pass selfie verification with a hack?

Yes, when the AI is weak or the processes in place are not hack-proof, then 2D and 3D static or dynamic attacks can bypass face recognition within an app. To avoid this, make sure the face recognition platform is benchmarked against others and well-trained on a diverse sample set.

What are the common reasons for denial in photo ID verification?

The common mistakes that people make which deny them access are: 1. Poor picture quality making it difficult to identify the person 2. Use of a duplicate or worn out ID 3. Not following the procedure in the KYC word for word Apart from the above, it could also be because the AI used in the screening process is not well-trained or powerful enough to make the right judgment.

Is online ID verification safe?

Yes, in general most online ID verification solutions are safe, provided they are GDPR compliant and ISO certified. They must also offer some form of high-grade 256-bit end-to-end encryption during the entire process of KYC.