Selfie Pay Augments Credit Card Biometrics

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge - Flickr

Retailers in the U.S. and the U.K. have implemented security checks, such as 3D Secure and Verified by Visa during the online checkout process. Unfortunately, the checks may hinder the shopping experience which can translate into lost sales according to ZDNet. In the U.K., 18 percent of online shoppers abandoned their baskets due to “excessive payment security checks” in 2012. U.S. companies lost $118 billion in potential sales in 2015 due to “false positives,” transactions that are wrongly declined because financial institutions incorrectly associate them with fraud.

In order to simplify the online shopping experience for its cardholders, MasterCard is rolling out its new mobile payment verification services, selfie pay and fingerprint payment, this year in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. To use selfie pay, cardholders will have to download MasterCard’s app to their mobile device or tablet. Customers will still need to provide their credit card details to make purchases, but if further authentication is required, they can hold their device up to their face and take a photograph. If they don’t want to use a photograph, they can use the device’s fingerprint sensor.

To prevent fraudsters from abusing the service, MasterCard said users will have to blink to prove they’re not holding a photograph up to the camera. The company said it also has algorithms in place that can detect if someone is using a previously-filmed video.

The selfie pay and fingerprint payment concepts propose a simpler alternative to more traditional security steps (e.g., CAPTCHA) at checkout. Called biometric authentication, a credit card customer’s photo or fingerprint could replace these cumbersome checks.

“I think the whole biometric space is a great way of protecting yourself when you are doing payments,” explained Ann Cairns, head of international markets for MasterCard, in a CNBC interview. “There are a whole range of biometrics that say ‘I’m me, I’m making a payment’ and it just makes the whole thing more secure.”

MasterCard is not the only company to use biometrics to better secure the payment process. Amazon believes so strongly in selfie pay that it has filed a patent for it. The Apple Pay platform on iOS already gives iPhone and iPad owners the option to authenticate payments with a fingerprint at select online retailers and stores. On Android devices that have built-in fingerprint sensors, such as Samsung’s smartphones and tablets, users can use Android Pay or Samsung Pay to make payments with fingerprint authentication. The Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay platforms already work with MasterCard credit cards.

Late last year, MasterCard ran concurrent pilots in the Netherlands and the U.S. Over three months, 750 ABN Amro Bank customers in the Netherlands and 240 employees of California-based First Tech Federal Credit Union participated by choosing between selfie or fingerprint authentication.

Combined data from both pilots show that 92 percent of all participants thought MasterCard’s selfie pay and fingerprint payment were more convenient than typing in passwords, and 83 percent believed it was more secure. Overall, 93 percent said fingerprint authentication was convenient, and 71 percent rated facial recognition as convenient.

Selfies and fingerprints are just the beginning. According to The Verge, MasterCard is currently looking into other biometric security options beyond these two options. Specifically, the company is considering using sensors to read a person’s electrocardiogram — the unique electrical signal produced by his or her heart.

“While even fingerprint or facial recognition requires input from the user, heartbeat recognition can take place seamlessly in the background,” The Verge explained. “You just wear a bracelet, and it sends a signal to devices you’re near to prove you’re you.”

If you’re tired of typing in a three-digit security code or trying to decipher the CAPTCHA number and letter codes in order to enter them, alternatives are on the way. Selfie pay and other biometrics will enable you to actually use physical parts of you to complete your payment transactions.

Related news briefs:

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U.S. EMV Chip Card Progress?

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Ryan Lahti is the founder and managing principal of OrgLeader, LLC. Stay up to date on Ryan’s STEM-based organization tweets here: @ryanlahti

(Photo: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Flickr)

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