Let us know it’s you: identification, authentication and verification

Your unique biological features are part of your identity. In our digital way of living, you unlock your device by using facial recognition or log into your bank account using your fingerprint. How are biometrics used to keep you and your data safe?

Identification: who are you?

Biometric identification determines your identity. In this stage, your biometric data is captured. This can either be morphological such as a facial image, fingerprint or iris scan or biological like DNA, blood or saliva.

This data can be compared to others or stored in a database. Your data can also be compared with biometric data that is stored in a identity credential such as an ID Card or ID Wallet.

Biometrics against identity fraud and theft

Unlike passwords, biometrics are the link between our physical and digital identity. Even if you create complex passwords and change them frequently, a data breach is possible. By using biometrics you’re putting up another barrier to keep others out of your account. It is very difficult to falsify biometrics and the databases are harder to hack, making it a safer option than your password.

Authentication and verification: are you who you say you are?

Identification asks who you are. Authentication seeks to prove your identity by comparing two sets of data. For example, someone wants to use your smartphone and tries to unlock the device. If you have set up up facial recognition on your phone, they can’t use your smartphone simply because their facial image does not match the one that is stored. Only if the captured data matches the existing template, you’re good to go.

Verification enables the person’s rights, for example access to a building or service. The most common way of identity verification is by manually comparing a physical document with the person. When you’re smiling nervously at the security guard while holding your ID Document, that’s when they verify it’s really you.


The differences between authentication and verification

Both methods are used to identify you who you claim to be. The terms are slightly different but often confused.

Stored biometrics

Comparing your live identity to the biometrics that are stored, is authentication. Verification is the term used for validating who you are who you claim to be.


For example, you are requested to provide your official ID Document to onboard a service. When you want to access that particular service again, you can authenticate yourself with a fingerprint or facial scan


Authentication does not automatically identify who the user is.