Innovations and Payment Systems

MasterCard aims to replace your password with a ‘selfie’


MasterCard announced the European launch of “Selfie Pay,” a verification technology that allows cardholders to make online payments using biometrics such as facial recognition and fingerprints.

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MasterCard has announced the European launch of “Selfie Pay,” a verification technology that allows cardholders to make online payments using biometrics such as facial recognition and fingerprints. Selfie Pay, officially titled “Identity Check Mobile,” was introduced to 12 European countries on Tuesday after successful trials in the United States, the Netherlands and Canada. The technology is currently available in the U.K., Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden, and is scheduled to be rolled out in phases across the world in 2017.

Your face is now your password

MasterCard intends to offer a more seamless and simplified online shopping experience to cardholders by allowing them to verify payments using selfies instead of passwords.

In order to utilize this technology, a cardholder must first download MasterCard’s Identity Check app to a mobile device. Next, the user takes a photo of his or her face using the device’s front facing camera. A digitized map of the user’s face is then created and loaded onto MasterCard’s servers.

After making a purchase online, the consumer receives a pop-up on his or her mobile phone or tablet requesting identity verification using either a fingerprint or facial recognition. If selecting facial recognition, the consumer simply looks at the mobile device’s front facing camera, and blinks when prompted. This confirms that the user is a real person and not just a photograph.


Convenience is key

MasterCard’s Identity Check Mobile is designed to offer online shoppers a secure and convenient alternative to traditional payment verification processes, which typically require a consumer to remember and enter a password in order to confirm his or her identity.

According to a MasterCard survey conducted by Norstat, 53 percent of shoppers have difficulty recalling important passwords more than once a week. This causes consumers to spend more than 10 minutes resetting their accounts. Consequently, more than one third of shoppers choose to abandon their online purchases all together.

“Biometrics, unlike passwords, ensures convenience,” Andr\xe9 IJbema, manager of risk management at International Card Services (ICS), explained in a news brief. “People forget passwords, making the payment process unnecessary long and complex so we expect that passwords will slowly become obsolete in favor of a more user-friendly alternative, such as biometrical identification.” A Dutch pilot of Identity Check Mobile technology, run by MasterCard and ICS, revealed that 9 out of 10 participants would prefer to replace passwords with biometric identification definitively.

Optimistic about the future of online payments, Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security at MasterCard, stated in a press release that “This is a significant milestone in the evolution of payments. Shopping in person has been revolutionized thanks to advances like contactless cards, mobile payments and wearables, and now we are making Identity Check Mobile a reality for online shopping in Europe, and soon, the world.”

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