Apple’s new iPhone X is arriving in stores around the world this Friday, November 3rd.
The brand new feature of the Apple X is Face ID: The primary way to unlock the new phone is with a face scanner, which replaces the fingerprint scanner as a security mechanism.
More importantly from the retailers’ perspective, the new model will use the technology not only to unlock the phone but also to authorise users for mobile payments (and for new 3-D emojis.)
The launch of the iPhone X did not go without a hitch. The Apple executive demonstrating the phone had to resort to a backup when the facial recognition system failed at the first attempt.
But after a temporary crash in Apple’s market value, the stock soon rallied, and analysts described the launch as putting Apple in an “extraordinarily strong” position.
Analysts see the high end iPhone X as having mass appeal for mobile channel customers, as the 3D recognition is believed to be far more secure than other biometric checks.
“Apple’s move into facial recognition is going to move public awareness of facial recognition forward in a huge way,” said Brian Brackeen, a former Apple project manager who now runs facial recognition company Kairos.
Widespread acceptance by the public will likely encourage mobile commerce merchants to adopt facial recognition.
Face ID works by capturing a 3D scan of a person’s face. Once the user has enrolled their face, they can unlock the phone just by glancing at it.
Samsung’s flagship phone and a few other devices, already use facial recognition to unlock, but without a 3D scan, they can be easily spoofed by showing the device a photo of its owner.
The Guardian reported that even with 3D image capture, some facial recognition systems can be fooled with an accurate model or mask of someone’s face. Apple said it worked with professional mask-makers and make-up artists in Hollywood to create replicas of people’s faces so they could train Face ID to recognize spoofing attempts.
Touch ID, the already widely used fingerprint recognition system, can be hacked, the newspaper reported, but only by using equipment and materials costing more than £1,000, the skills of a crime-scene investigator and a perfect, unsmudged full print from the finger to be replicated.
A big attraction of facial recognition for consumers is expected to be the lack of friction it implies for payment processes, compared with finger print recognition.
Andy McDonald, Vice President, Merchant Payments at ACI Worldwide, commented:
“The launch of Apple X could be one of many inflection points that drive consumers across the globe to use mobile devices as their main method of payment as it removes friction from the payment process.
“While many Western countries debate the ‘future of cash’ and whether the use of cards will one day be challenged by mobile payments, in China this discussion is irrelevant. China has adopted mobile as their payment channel of choice.
“Many European retailers are currently scrambling to accept Chinese customers’ payments and maybe left with no choice in accommodating new forms of payments that are being driven by the extreme forces of the Chinese consumer economy.
“However, security is a big concern for many consumers globally and we have seen many false starts in biometric technology deployments related to reliability and consumers’ concerns about data and security.”