MasterCard to trial using selfies as authentication

Looking at your phone may become the new way to pay, as MasterCard begins experimenting with biometric technology to allow users to pay with a touch of a finger or a by taking a selfie upon checkout.

MasterCard users may soon be able to pay for online purchases with their face or finger, with the payments giant to begin experimenting with facial-scan technology as well as fingerprint identification in an attempt to eliminate digital fraud.

According to a report by CNNMoney, MasterCard will launch a pilot program with 500 participants over the next few months to develop the infrastructure to approve purchases without the need to enter a password.

MasterCard currently employs a SecureCode service that requires customers to enter a password upon checkout in an effort to protect against unauthorised credit card use when shopping online. While biometric recognition technology is the next step in convenience, it still requires an authentication procedure.

In order to use the upcoming function, customers will be required to download the MasterCard app on their phone, and, once an online purchase is at the checkout stage, the app will push through a request asking for authorisation before payment is submitted.

According to the report, authorisation will be done via one of two methods. The first is fingerprint recognition, requiring users to verify their identity by touching their device; the second method, facial recognition, will see users stare at their camera while their face is mapped. Reportedly, blinking while taking your payment selfie will prevent a thief from simply holding a photograph up to pretend they are you.

"The new generation, which is into selfies ... I think they'll find it cool. They'll embrace it," MasterCard president of enterprise safety and security Ajay Bhalla said.

The report says MasterCard will not store an image of a finger or face, with the payment giant claiming to be able to reconstruct a face with the information it stores.

Earlier this year, MasterCard announced that it would be ramping up its cybersecurity efforts for online and mobile transactions, investing more than $20 million in cybersecurity-related technology. The company spoke about its plans to run a pilot biometric authentication program with California-based First Tech Federal Credit Union, focusing on facial and voice recognition and fingerprint matching to approve customer purchases.

Just last month, MasterCard said that it would be extending tokenisation support to private-label credit cards and e-commerce merchants, allowing businesses to accept mobile payments via Apple Pay, Android Pay, and just about any third-party payments app.

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