Fingerprint vs Vascular biometrics – What are the differences?

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Fingerprint vs Vascular biometrics – Are they different?

In biometrics, fingerprint technology is by far the most popular and widely used modality. However, due to the evolving nature of the technology, many other biometric modalities have emerged such as vascular biometrics.  Even though they both share parts of the hand for identification purposes, these biometric modalities are quite different in how they work and their effectiveness in different environments. Let’s take a closer look at both and then explain the differences in detail:

Fingerprint Biometrics

Each person on the planet has a unique set of fingerprints – even identical twins do not share the exact same set of fingerprints. Fingerprint technology uses a person’s fingerprints to identify him through a process known as “fingerprint scanning.”

A fingerprint scanner system has two basic tasks –

  1. To obtain a raw image of your fingerprints
  2. The need to determine whether the fingerprint pattern matches with pre-scanned images

how-fingerprint-scanner works

Specific characteristics unique to every persons fingerprint are filtered and saved from the raw images as an encrypted biometric key or mathematical representation. No image of a fingerprint is ever saved, only a series of numbers (a binary code) which is used for verification purposes. It is virtually impossible to reverse engineer the algorithm to reconstruct a raw fingerprint image, so no one can forge your fingerprints.

Vascular Biometrics

Vascular biometrics are a relatively new form of biometric authentication. It identifies an individual using the vein pattern inside one’s fingers or palms.


Vascular scanners such as a finger vein scanner or palm vein scanner utilize near infrared lights combined with a special camera to capture vein patterns. The image is then converted into an encrypted biometric key or mathematical representation and stored as a template. During authentication, the finger vein image is captured, converted again and compared against the stored template of the user.

Fingerprint vs Vascular Biometrics

Basic differences exist between these two biometric identification technologies. Today we are going to evaluate each in the following table:

Criteria Fingerprint Biometrics Vascular Biometrics
FAR & FRR Higher Lower
Accuracy Medium High
Template Size Small Medium
Cost Lower Higher
Security Lower Higher
Long Term Stability Lower Higher
Environment Adaptability Lower Higher
Duplication Risk Higher Lower
Processing Speed Higher Medium

Use FingerVein Biometrics to avoid fingerprint issues


False Acceptance (FAR) and False Rejection Rates (FRR) are lower in vascular technology compared to fingerprint technology.

False Accept (FAR) & False Reject Rates (FRR) lower in vascular #biometrics than fingerprint. Click To Tweet


Due to having lower FAR and FRR, vascular biometrics are considered a more accurate biometric modality.

Lower FAR & FRR means vascular #biometrics considered more accurate biometric modality. Click To Tweet

Size of Template

The size of biometric templates is smaller in fingerprint technology compared to vascular technology.


Vascular biometric technology requires a higher financial commitment compared to fingerprint.

Security Level

Because veins are located inside the body, they are extremely difficult to read or steal. There is little risk of forgery or theft.

Long Term Stability

M2-FuseID™ Advanced Fingerprint ReaderIn the long run, a person’s fingerprint may be damaged due to environment, ethnicity, or age, however skin integrity does not affect the accuracy or readability of finger vein or palm vein authentication.

Environment and Weather Adaptability

Vascular biometrics are less likely to be affected by changes in the weather or physical condition (skin integrity) of the individual.

Duplication Risk

Vascular biometrics do not leave latent prints on a hardware device during the authentication process like fingerprint recognition so they cannot be duplicated or forged by “lifting.”

Processing Speed

Authentication and processing speeds are quite different between these two technologies. Fingerprint technology is better suited for a 1:N environment, whereas vein technology is better suited to 1:1 searches.


Fingerprint biometrics is a proven technology with low installation costs whereas vascular biometrics is a relatively new technology that is more accurate, and less susceptible to the problems that low skin integrity can cause in terms of accuracy and eligibility. With so many differences between them, only the future will tell how well these two biometric identification management technologies will perform in practice.



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Matthew Bennett

The author leads the digital marketing team at M2SYS Technology and an occasional blogger. He is passionate about writing various government and enterprise biometric identity management technology adoption related topics and the changes it brings on the general people’s lives.

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