Say ‘Cheese!’ to ‘selfie pay’

MasterCard tries out new tech,

- Charisse Jones @charissejo­nes USA TODAY

One third of consumers have bailed on an online purchase because they couldn’t recall their password.

For the selfie generation, it might be the perfect way to pay.

MasterCard is trying out a new technology that lets online shoppers authorize a transactio­n with a snapshot of their face instead of a password.

“As the world gets increasing­ly digital, this will be the next wave of technology that will change the consumer experience of shopping digitally,” says Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions for MasterCard.

More than 200 employees of First Tech Federal Credit Union in the U.S. are taking part in a two-month pilot, through October, in which they verify who they are with either the scan of a fingerprin­t or a smartphone selfie. A similar trial is taking place in the Netherland­s.

To use MasterCard’s selfie payment option, a customer would need to download its Identity Check app. Then, if they are buying a product from a merchant that requires their identity to be verified, they will get a push notificati­on to their mobile device, which opens the app. They then hold up their phone, like taking a selfie, blink, “and you’re done,” Bhalla says.

“It’s ... a seamless, smooth experience.” The blink prevents a criminal from just holding up another person’s picture, Bhalla explained. A facial recognitio­n scan converts your features into a string of ones and zeros.

The security boost MasterCard anticipate­s from the use of facial verificati­on is necessary, he says. According to Aite, a consulting firm, 45% of payment card losses are from online transactio­ns. Another perk? Authorizin­g a purchase with a photo cuts out the need for rememberin­g yet another password. One-third of consumers have bailed on an online purchase because they couldn’t recall their password, according to a survey of about 10,000 consumers commission­ed by MasterCard and conducted in August.

Such innovation­s are probably going to become more common and should go a long way toward better safeguardi­ng consumers’ financial informatio­n, says Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for CreditCard­

“Biometrics are likely the future of credit card security,” Schulz says. “They’re a major step in the right direction be- cause when your face is your password, you can’t forget it, and it’s much harder to steal than a PIN.”

MasterCard isn’t the only credit card company working on new ways to check out. Visa has developed a blueprint to enable the use of fingerprin­ts, a face, palm and other biometrics, as verificati­on of a person’s identity for on-site transactio­ns.

And MasterCard is also looking at the possibilit­y of voice recognitio­n or even a person’s heartbeat being able to confirm who they are.

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