Did you ever think you would be able to pay a bill with a selfie? Facial recognition is being rolled out as a way to authorize online transactions in markets in Europe as you read this. MasterCard’s “Identity Check Mobile,” also known as Selfie Pay, is being launched in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK. In these markets, MasterCard customers (who wish to) can download an app and authorize online payments by snapping a selfie or scanning their fingerprint with their smartphone. This is following a trial introduction of a similar program using biometric technology in the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands. According to MasterCard, the app will be accessible throughout the rest of the world at a later date in 2017.
The facial recognition authorization app was designed to enhance security and speed up transactions that don’t occur in face-to-face situations. With Selfie Pay, e-commerce is going to benefit, since customers won’t have to remember a password every time they make a purchase. Instead of memorizing a long password requiring a capital letter, a special character, and at least one number, the app works by memorizing your face with a digital ‘map’. After the Identity Check Mobile app is downloaded, users are asked to take a photo of their face. That picture is used as a point of reference for the user from then on. In the event that someone tries to bypass the system by holding up a picture of the person, for example, Identity Check Mobile sends a prompt for the user to blink.
So what kind of encryption is in place to protect the sensitive user data? A MasterCard spokeswoman said, “As an industry, we are moving toward storing biometrics in all instances at the device level. Fingerprints are stored at the device level, and we are currently prototyping facial recognition to be converted and stored as encrypted code on some devices.”