iPhone X Taps Facial Recognition for Payment Authentication

Depending on how many people can get past the four-figure price tag, facial recognition for payments could be getting its first significant field test in the newly released iPhone X from Apple. Apple’s Touch ID was introduced on the iPhone 5s in 2013 and has become the go-to authentication method for Apple owners to unlock their phones, access protected apps and make online purchases using Apple Pay. The iPhone X, unveiled on Tuesday, has abandoned the Home button and, consequently, abandoned fingerprint authentication that relied on it.

In its place, Apple introduced FaceID, a system that uses infrared cameras, light, sensors and machine learning to ensure a user is the true owner of the device. Like Touch ID, FaceID will work with Apple Pay to authenticate online purchases. While the security features built into FaceID seem more sophisticated than easily beaten previous attempts at facial recognition on mobile devices, the main worry remains the same: If the technology is beaten, you can’t change your face like you can a hacked password.

Widespread success of the FaceID feature in the iPhone X (and a similar feature in the Samsung Galaxy 8) could lend critical mass to facial recognition in payments and persuade more payments companies and device makers to integrate it in more applications.

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