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The Next Big Thing in Mobile Payments – Selfies?

July 9, 2015

Mobile payments have existed for a long time, but over the last few years, the idea of paying for your goods with your cell phone has become much more widespread. With the launch of Apple Pay in 2014, people are now using apps to pay for everything from their groceries to their restaurant bills, and since the app has many built-in security features, most consumers feel more secure with this method of payment. But just in case a fingerprint scan isn’t enough, MasterCard is now taking things one-step further with sophisticated facial recognition software to approve online purchases.

MasterCard is exploring facial recognition as an alternative to SecureCode, its security software that asks online shoppers for a password to make purchases. At checkout, you will be asked to hold up your phone and snap a photo of yourself. You stare at the phone – blink—and you’re done. “By blinking, you prevent a thief from just holding up a picture of you and fooling the system,” disclose MasterCard’s security researchers.

“The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it,” said Ajay Bhalla, who’s in charge of coming up with innovative solutions for MasterCard’s security challenges.

According to a recent article published in CNN Money, customers who opt in for this program will have to download MasterCard’s app before taking an authentication selfie along with a fingerprint sample. These are then uploaded and analyzed by MasterCard’s application, which checks it against archive records.

In order to ensure that the app will correspond correctly on all mobile devices, the credit card company has partnered with “every Smartphone maker,” including Apple, Blackberry, Google, Microsoft and Samsung.

MasterCard announced previously this year that it would be building up its cybersecurity efforts for online and mobile dealings by investing above $20 million in cybersecurity-related technology. Although Bhalla did not give a time frame for the launch of the biometric security product, he did mention that the pilot program will begin soon with 500 customers and be deployed widely later if everything tests out fine.

It remains unseen whether or not MasterCard’s facial recognition payment program will be successful; however, if we look at the trend of the future consumers, taking a selfie to pay for your goods sounds quite fitting.


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