Merchant Innovation

Samsung Facial Recognition Tech Not Ready For Payments Yet


While Samsung has netted a lot of early buzz for the inclusion of facial recognition biometrics in its newly released Galaxy S8 phone, experts say that facial recognition has a few years to go before it is ready to roll out for use with payments.

And the similar-sounding tech planned for the upcoming Apple release? Same deal.

Facial recognition is a poplar biometric form — it is easier to use than either iris scanning or fingerprints because all a user has to do is look at the phone (as opposed to positioning one’s gaze and finding the touch scanner on the phone).

And while it is popular and easy to use, it is also not quite refined enough to be used to secure something as sensitive as a payment.

“In order for facial recognition to be solely used for financial transactions, it would take more than four years, considering the current camera and deep learning technology levels,” a source from Samsung told The Korea Herald.

As of today, facial recognition is good enough to unlock a locked phone — but that is about all its current security level allows for. Plus, it seems Samsung isn’t all that concerned — it already has payment-grade biometrics in the field being used.

“We do not need to use facial recognition for mobile financial transactions because there are already high-level biometric technologies such as iris and fingerprint recognition. The question of when it will be used is meaningless,” a Samsung spokesperson said.

But the change, according to some experts, may be coming — because facial (and voice) recognition have the benefits of being easy to add to phones universally, since they make use of camera and microphone hardware that more or less comes standard to every phone.  Iris and fingerprint scanners, on the other hand, require a bit more hardware that is not a standard feature in most phones.

“Facial and voice recognition will also be mainstream in the future, alongside iris and fingerprint. But, it needs more than four to five years for facial recognition to be solely used for financial transactions. For the time being, they will be used as additional certification methods,” Jin Seung-heon, a chief of Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute’s information protection research unit.

Korea Internet & Security Agency predicts that the Korean biometric recognition market will increase to 270 billion won (US$239 million) in 2020 from 180 billion won in 2015.


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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out the February 2019 PYMNTS Digital Fraud Tracker Report

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