BMO, MasterCard Launch Biometric Corporate Cards


The pay-by-selfie trend seems to have arrived on the market in troves this year. Earlier this month, reports emerged that Amazon is interested in the technology to allow consumers to authenticate their online purchases. MasterCard, meanwhile, has already worked with selfie biometric authentication tools, and revealed earlier this year that it plans to expand those capabilities to its payment solutions in the U.K.

Authenticating digital transactions by taking a picture of yourself with a smartphone seems to be a trend for the consumer, but reports Wednesday (March 23) revealed one bank is betting on corporate use of the technology.

Bank of Montreal said it is about to roll out a corporate credit card program that allows employees and executives to authenticate their online purchases by taking a selfie or by scanning their fingerprint.

According to the bank, it’s the first of its kind for commercial cards.

“In an industry we have to go this way,” said BMO’s vice president and head of North American corporate card products Steve Pedersen in an interview with CNBC. “Our customers are expecting it of us and it’s important for us as an industry to show innovation.”

The executive added that the biometric authentication tool, which will launch in both Canada and the U.S., is likely to attract younger users and players within the technology sector.

“An older demographic is a little bit more reluctant whereas the younger demographic are so used to the technology,” Pedersen added. “This is a natural extension.”

The solution will integrate into the MasterCard Identity Check mobile app to allow users to verify purchases made over their smartphones. According to reports, it will be live this summer, with plans by BMO to expand the solution to consumer card products later this year.

While major FinTech and payments players have been pushing for adoption of biometric authentication tools, some analysts told CNBC that the technology is far from fool-proof.

According to IEEE member and Docker security lead Diogo Monica, validation via selfie could be even less secure than a password.

“If your password gets compromised, you can change it to something new,” Monica stated. “But with only one face, you really don’t have options if your photo is compromised. And it’s much easier to steal pictures of someone’s face than to steal someone’s fingerprints.”


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