Computers

MasterCard will soon let you make payments with a selfie

The technology is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
The technology is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
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The technology is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
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The technology is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

If paying for something with your smartphone still seems like a strange concept, then news that you'll soon be able to do so with a selfie is likely all the more confusing. Indeed, though, MasterCard is set to roll-out both facial recognition and fingerprint payment authorization.

The announcement follows news that Visa is making it possible to pay for things using in-car apps. Like mobile and in-car payments, selfie- and fingerprint-authorized payments are focused, in part, on providing convenience. In addition, though, they give the perception of security.

MasterCard's move towards biometric payment follows a study it ran in partnership with Dutch credit card firm International Card Services (ICS). The pilot project was carried out among 750 ABN AMRO cardholders over the course of six months, with participants able to complete online purchases without the need for pin codes, passwords or confirmation codes, instead using fingerprint or facial verification.

Following the pilot, 77 percent of participants indicated that they wanted to continue using a fingerprint and/or facial recognition to complete payments, and nine out of ten indicated that they would like to replace their password with biometric identification definitively. In addition, almost 75 percent believed that biometric payments would decrease fraud.

In a literal sense, of course, a person's face and fingerprints cannot be lost or stolen, meaning they are always with someone when they need to make a payment. While the typical uniqueness of our faces and fingerprints may make them seem inherently secure, however, they are effectively just turned into a password by a computer.

As such, this still means that biometric data is open to being stolen and, what's more, losing it has the potential to be more costly than someone simply finding out a password that can subsequently be changed. There are, therefore, some concerns about biometric payments, although that is not to say such concerns are necessarily insurmountable.

Regardless, MasterCard says the pilot has led to commercial interest from around the world and that it plans to launch the technology in the US, Canada and parts of Europe later this year. Consumers using it will receive a notification on their smartphone when making an online payment asking them to authorize the transaction using their fingerprint or facial recognition.

Source: MasterCard

4 comments
Bob Flint
Guess they have never seen the movie "Faceoff" or "Eagle eye" Besides the number of selfies proliferate in the cyber universe, it should be easy to send someone else's face complete with credentials...
habakak
Bob, you watch too many bad sci-fi movies. There are many ways around the copy and paste of a selfie. Check the timestamp of when the photo was created for instance.
Stephen N Russell
Selfie Finances ideas: Timestamp photos. No masks, excessive makeup. No hoods. 360 scanning camera? Photostamp time on celphone. Encrypt smartphones. More can be done & lisc for ALL banks & finance.
HitoshiAnatomi
Why do they want to sacrifice security? Whether face, iris, fingerprint, typing, gesture, heartbeat or brainwave, biometric authentication could be a candidate for displacing the password if/when (only if/when) it has stopped depending on a password to be registered in case of false rejection while keeping the near-zero false acceptance. Threats that can be thwarted by biometric products operated together with fallback/backup passwords can be thwarted more securely by password-only authentication We could be certain that biometrics would help for better security only when it is operated together with another factor by AND/Conjunction (we need to go through both of the two), not when operated with another factor by OR/Disjunction (we need only to go through either one of the two) as in the cases of Touch ID and many other biometric products on the market that require a backup/fallback password, which only increase the convenience by bringing down the security. In short, biometric solutions could be recommended to the people who want convenience but should not be recommended to those who need security. It may be interesting to have a quick look at a slide titled “Blind Spot in Our Mind & Eye-opening Experience” shown at http://www.slideshare.net/HitoshiKokumai/blind-spot-in-our-mind-eyecatching-experience