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Mastercard Launches Biometric Payments Partnership With NEC

facial recognition technology

Mastercard has teamed with NEC to bring biometric checkout to the Asia Pacific region.

The partnership, announced Tuesday (Nov. 14), combines NEC’s facial recognition and liveness verification technology with Mastercard’s payment operations, and comes as consumers and businesses are increasingly embracing biometrics.

“As retailing environments continue to evolve and choices in ways to pay rapidly expand, biometric solutions offer a seamless, quick and secure checkout, without needing to unlock a phone or insert a PIN,” Ajay Bhalla, president, Cyber and Intelligence Solutions, Mastercard, said in a news release.

Bhalla added that the collaboration will “bring exciting new biometric payments to customers in countries across Asia Pacific and lead the world in safe and convenient checkout experiences.”

Mastercard launched its biometric checkout program in Brazil last year with its “Smile and Pay” offering, allowing in-person payments to transact with a smile or the wave of a hand. The company says the technology’s benefits for merchants include shorter lines, added security and more hygienic conditions, while offering a “more engaging relationship” with customers.

And in September, Mastercard teamed with Mercedes to let the carmaker’s drivers make in-vehicle payments using fingerprint recognition.

Mastercard’s latest partnership is happening amid a flurry of product launches involving biometric payments, including Amazon’s announcement that it was integrating radio-frequency identification tags into its biometric-first Just Walk Out retail stores.

“Customer expectations have been retrained around convenience and speed when it comes to payments,” PYMNTS wrote at the time.

“No more is waiting 30 seconds for a card to settle acceptable — in fact, many consumers would rather not wait at all. And as these behavioral expectations become status-quo needs, it is becoming more and more important for businesses to deliver a seamless and engaging transactional experience.”

Research by PYMNTS Intelligence finds that of the nearly 60% of consumers surveyed who had conducted online purchases in the prior 30 days, 51% used biometrics.

“Drilling down into the data further reveals that facial recognition and fingerprint scans emerged as the most popular biometric methods, with about 28% and 49% of consumers using them, respectively,” PYMNTS wrote in September. “In addition, 58% of facial recognition users use the method more than once weekly.”

However, not everyone is ready to embrace biometric payments, at least not without the promise of some incentive. The research found that 72% of consumers who said they weren’t interested in biometrics would be willing to reconsider in exchange for rewards or discounts.