What is Selfie Identity Verification?

Selfie identity verification is the latest ‘it’ trend when it comes to different industries and their top KYC picks. That’s because this verification measure is simple and effective both for the user and for the business, aiming to safeguard its assets. And it’s exactly as it sounds — it requires users to take a selfie, typically during the customer onboarding process. Learn more about its benefits, susceptibility to fraudsters, and more.

The worldwide market for identity verification, with a value of $9.5 billion in 2022, is expected to continue to grow at least up to $18.6 billion. However, with many identity verification solutions in the market, it becomes challenging to find the one that actually works in two main ways: it prevents fraud and doesn’t add unnecessary friction to the process. This is where selfie identity verification comes in handy. 

During this type of Know Your Customer (KYC) process, users take and upload a selfie, a series of selfies, or a video to confirm its liveliness. After that, the IDV software compares it against the photo on the user’s ID document for proper verification. In addition to that, selfie verification has become a beloved solution as a simple way to reauthenticate returning customers

However, selfies shouldn’t be the one and only measure in your identity verification system. Find out why by reading the blog post. 

What is Selfie Identity Verification?

Selfie identity verification, often known as a selfie check or selfie authentication, is a user verification method that utilizes biometrics. It involves taking a selfie and uploading it to confirm one’s identity. Users capture their selfie images using their smartphones, tablets, or computers, with AI software typically guiding them through the process.

This form of identification isn’t completely foolproof, especially on its own. That’s why companies use it as an extra layer of defense against fraudsters by combining it with other verification measures. For example, document verification or database verification

In this scenario, after receiving the selfie from the user, the company can perform a comparison between the selfie and the user’s uploaded ID document or a special government database to ensure that the user is legitimate. This process also helps prevent unauthorized account access by verifying that the account holder matches the ID documents provided.

Companies that accept selfies sometimes ask users for multiple pictures. For instance, a profile selfie, a selfie looking to the right, and so on. This extra measure ensures that the user is live and present during the selfie identity verification process. Companies do this to prevent deepfakes, masks, altered photos, and other attempts to pass this security step fraudulently. 

What is Liveness Detection?

Liveness detection is a process aimed at detecting non-living spoofs, such as pictures, prints, silicone masks, and other presentation attacks. This technology has the ability to detect whether the person taking the selfie is real or not. Liveness detection uses sophisticated algorithms and typically happens in the background after the user submits the selfie. 

What’s good about liveness detection is that if a fraudster attempts to use someone else’s documents, they will either be deterred by the request for a liveness check, or the check will prove that they don’t match the person shown in the uploaded ID document.

Active Liveness vs Passive Liveness

There are two kinds of liveness checks, which include:

  • Active liveness. These checks require users to respond to several actions, also called active detection techniques, in front of the camera to confirm their presence. For example, they can be asked to smile or shift their gaze in a specific direction.
  • Passive liveness. Unlike active liveness checks, passive liveness checks don’t ask the user to perform specific actions. Instead, they focus on identifying typical red flags that could giveaway fraud. For example, motion detection or skin texture. 

The key difference between the two lies in their approach: active liveness checks require the user to execute a series of response actions to confirm their real presence, while passive liveness performs the required checks without the user’s awareness of the process.

When it comes to fraud prevention, human reflexes, and challenges, including blinking and other reflexive signals, are harder to fake with AI. Despite that, active liveness, with such a challenge-response method, takes more time compared to the background analysis used in passive liveness.

What is Liveness Detection

How Does Selfie Verification Work?

The Selfie verification process typically works through a digital platform or app in real-time. Many companies use it as a method to onboard customers securely at scale. The actual person who’s performing the ID verification check follows instructions in order to confirm their identity through a selfie. 

To achieve a successful digital onboarding, you require two essential components: a scanning device, usually in the form of a smartphone, for capturing a selfie, and specialized software that converts the selfie into a standardized digital format. This format is then used to compare the facial characteristics with those on the user’s ID card for verification.

Selfie verification typically consists of a few steps and works like this:

  • During customer onboarding, the user captures and submits a photo of their government-issued ID, for example, a driver’s license or passport.
  • Information from the ID document is compared against official databases and other user-provided details to see if there are any inconsistencies.
  • The user is then asked to take and upload a selfie or a sequence of selfies. This is to make sure that the user matches the person on the ID.
  • Finally,  the verification software checks the selfies or videos submitted by the user to confirm their liveness, which is all compared to the photo on their ID for final validation.

Financial institutions are obliged entities that must conduct identity verification checks during the account opening process to comply with KYC/AML regulations. Other industries can also implement selfie verification checks when there’s a greater risk of fraud. Remember that not every customer needs to go under higher scrutiny due to the unnecessary friction that it might add. 

What are the Benefits of Selfie Identity Verification

In an increasingly digital world, many transactions and interactions occur remotely. Selfie verification solves this issue. Part of that is why it has become a popular measure for secure identity confirmation without needing physical presence, making it ideal for online services, remote work, and virtual interactions. Advances in facial recognition technology and biometrics have made selfie verification more accurate and reliable than ever before, which is an absolute must. 

For example, if a person’s information was compromised during a data breach, businesses can struggle to manage and detect all of the identity theft cases. In such scenarios, selfie verification offers the needed assurance. That’s because even if a hacker has accessed sensitive data or government-issued ID details, successfully bypassing a well-implemented selfie verification process with liveness detection would be a hassle. 

How Accurate is Selfie Verification?

Selfie verification is highly accurate when properly implemented. Despite that, its effectiveness can vary depending on factors such as the technology used, user cooperation, and the quality of the verification process. For example, iDenfy’s identity verification software uses a patented 3D liveness detection technology that instantly spots fraudulent verification attempts while handling large verification volumes with the highest accuracy rates.

Here are some examples illustrating the pros and cons of selfie verification in terms of accuracy, especially in fraud detection:


  • Reduced false positives. Compared to traditional verification methods that use usernames and passwords, selfie verification can significantly reduce false positives (rejecting legitimate users) and false negatives (accepting fraudulent users).
  • High accuracy in liveness detection. Selfie verification with liveness detection is excellent at finding the difference between a live user and a static image or video. It detects even the slightest movements, such as blinking or smiling, which are challenging to mimic with a static image.
  • Additional verification layers. Selfie verification can be used along with other ID verification factors like document verification and screening against criminal lists, further enhancing accuracy by providing multiple layers of verification.


  • Quality of selfies. The accuracy of selfie verification relies on the quality of the submitted selfies. Poor lighting, blurriness, or obscured facial features can result in false rejections or acceptances. We discuss how to avoid getting denied during the identification process here.
  • Algorithm biases. Unfortunately, some selfie verification systems and their facial recognition algorithms can exhibit biases, leading to inaccuracies. This concerns individuals with diverse racial or gender identities. That’s why it’s crucial to choose a robust solution with a reliable facial recognition algorithm.
How Does Selfie Identity Verification Work

Adding Selfie Verification to Your KYC Flow

Typically, selfie verification serves as an additional layer of security, complementing other verification methods like document verification checks. At iDenfy, we offer multiple ID verification measures, including biometric selfie checks. 

Our AI software extracts data in 0.02 seconds from 3000+ documents, along with other features:

  • Complete accuracy insurance with human supervision — our in-house KYC experts double-check verifications to improve accuracy and the overall customer approval rate without any unnecessary friction.
  • Non-bias liveness detection and anti-spoofing technology — our biometric and facial recognition algorithms guarantee the accuracy of each verification, effectively preventing the use of static images, 3D masks, and other fraudulent representations during the ID verification process. 

Easily customize, integrate, and take a risk-based approach to your onboarding process by adding needed selfie checks for high-risk users. Integrate built-in AML checks to ensure complete compliance.

Read our customer success stories to see the selfie identity verification solution in action, or get started right away.

Save costs by onboarding more verified users

Join hundreds of businesses that successfully integrated iDenfy in their processes and saved money on failed verifications.