Biometrics

MasterCard’s Pay-By-Selfie, Fingerprint Closer To Reality

There’s no set date quite yet, but from all accounts it appears that MasterCard is getting closer to rolling out its pay-by-selfie and pay-by-fingerprint in three regions: the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

A new report from ZDNet indicates that these mobile payment identity authentication services will be rolling out in those three regions sometime this year. This comes after a trial program for the options has already been tested after an experiment in the Netherlands.

MasterCard initially announced its plans to bring the option into the U.K. in February. This technology enables consumers to use their fingerprints or a photo of themselves to validate their identity. This was created for online purchases and developed with the purpose of nixing passwords or codes.

The technology is currently in pilot mode but is expected to roll out to 14 countries this summer.

MasterCard officially rolled out its “selfie pay” concept in the fall of 2015. The feature will make it possible for merchants to verify the identity of a shopper by looking at a photo of their face. That rollout will continue throughout the United States in 2016 and go global in 2017.

To make the new service work, a photo is taken every time a customer makes a MasterCard purchase via a phone app. The picture is then used to authenticate the user’s identity — on top of the password — through cross-comparison with a photo the user has already supplied to MasterCard.

According to Ajay Bhalla, president of MasterCard’s enterprise solutions division, though EMV chips led to fraud at in-person points of sale being reduced by 80 percent, the smart money is on criminals evolving. “Fraudsters migrate to the digital world,” as he put it. Selfie pay is a larger part of MasterCard Identity Check. That service uses a variety of methods, from the complex (like this program) to the simple (like single-use passcodes sent to customers by SMS text message).

But MasterCard isn’t the only one in the “selfie pay” mode. Amazon is also looking at the technology, as has Alibaba — with technology which was initially introduced by its founder in March 2015. Both Alibaba and MasterCard have spent a better part of the past year discussing the concept of facial scanning and biometrics as they relate to payments.

For MasterCard, the focus at the moment has been on developing its most recently rolled out program, the Identity Check app, which enables its cardholders the option to pay by selfie. This works now only for online purchases on sites that integrate the technology.

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