Mobile Payments

MasterCard’s ‘Selfie Pay’ Coming To The UK

MasterCard’s facial recognition payment option, commonly referred to as “selfie pay,” is expanding beyond tests in the U.S. and Netherlands.

MasterCard announced its plans to roll out the option in the U.K., according to a Financial Times report. 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 pic 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).

Speaking with FT, Bhalla said MasterCard is also testing voice/iris scanning as other digital identity solutions. The tests, he said, are going well, and “consumers are really loving [the selfie pay option].”

During a session entitled “Digital Identity for Connected Societies” at Mobile World Congress, Bhalla introduced MasterCard’s IQ Series, which uses both “visible” and “invisible” means to prevent fraud from occurring. Before Bhalla took the stage, PYMNTS caught up with him to dive deeper into what he and MasterCard are doing to help fight one of the biggest sources of friction in payments and commerce: false declines in an online world.

The fact that 50 percent of all fraud globally is associated with digital commerce is “a big problem” — a problem, Bhalla points out, that will only multiply as the Internet of Things gains a stronger presence in the world “and more and more devices are being used for transactions and those transactions are automated.”


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