Merchant Innovation

Will MasterCard Really Let Users Pay By ‘Selfie?’

Securing cards is no easy feat since it is a given that there is an innovative, evolving and increasingly professional legion of cybercriminals actively seeking to grab as much user data and as many card numbers as possible.

EMV, bio-authentication, tokenization, two-factor authentication and even good old-fashioned passwords are essentially attempts at putting locks on digital accounts. Rightful cardholders have easy access to the “keys,” but criminals do not.

And the key list is getting longer as of today with the beginning of MasterCard’s formal rollout of a “Pay By Selfie” feature that 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 an MC 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).

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