Take a selfie to approve purchases?

Thursday, August 13th, 2015
Updated: August 13th, 2015
The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

MasterCard is going to move fraud protection to the next level.

The company will start a test of their new program which approves online purchases with a facial scan. During checkout, you will be asked to hold up your phone and snap a photo – simple and no need to remember passwords.

Today customers use so-called “SecureCode” – a private secure code that protect your purchases. The secure code requires a password when shopping online and passwords often get forgotten, stolen or intercepted. So, banks started following Apple with its iPhone’s fingerprint scanner and Apple Pay that showed consumers’ good will to use biometrics to prove their identity.

MasterCard will start a piloting test that uses fingerprints and facial scans. There will be 500 customers participating in the test. MasterCard plans to make it available to the public after that and once all the kinks are worked out.

To make a success of the program, MasterCard has partnered with smartphone makers, including Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Samsung. The deals with banks are not finalized yet, so we can only guess whose customers will get this first.

Some insights

To use the facial scan feature, you will have to download the MasterCard phone app. When you pay for something, a pop-up will ask for authorization. You can choose fingerprint, all it takes is a touch, or you can go with facial recognition. When you choose the last option, you will need to stare at the phone, blink once, and you will be done. Blinking is needed to prevent a thief from holding up a photo of you to trick the app.

The app won’t actually get a picture of your face but a map of your face, convert it to a binary code and transmit it to MasterCard. This algorithm is planned to be kept safe on company’s computer servers but the possibility of keeping it on the customers’ devices is not excluded. And yes, MasterCard won’t be able to reconstruct your face.

Facial scan is not the only thing MasterCard is working on. It is also experimenting with voice recognition and heartbeat recognition.

All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.

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