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MasterCard makes fingerprint and ‘selfie’ payment technology a reality

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MasterCard has rolled out Identity Check Mobile, a new payment technology application that uses biometrics like fingerprints or facial recognition to verify a cardholder’s identity, simplifying online shopping.

Typically, existing identity verification methods take shoppers away from a retailer’s website or mobile app where they are often required to remember and enter a password. The process can be time consuming and can result in a shopper abandoning their purchase or having the transaction declined if they enter their password incorrectly.

Mastercard Identity Check Mobile eliminates the need for cardholders to recall passwords, dramatically speeding up the digital checkout experience while also improving security. Instead, the cardholder can verify their identity by using the fingerprint scanner on their smartphone or via facial recognition technology by taking a “selfie” photo.

“We are relentlessly focused on making the online payment experience near frictionless, without making any compromises on safety and security,” saysAjay Bhalla, president of Enterprise Risk & Security, Mastercard. “This is a significant milestone in the evolution of payments. Shopping in person has been revolutionised thanks to advances like contactless cards, mobile payments and wearables, and now we are making Identity Check Mobile a reality for online shopping in Europe, and soon, the world.”

The move comes after trials and research discovered European consumers prefer biometric payments to current systems that rely on passwords.

Commenting on the news, John Rakowski, director of technology strategy at AppDynamics, said: “While many customers might be reluctant to take a selfie to authorise a payment, the technology itself will be widely familiar. After all, multiple generations have become used to facial recognition technology, whether on Snapchat or at e-passport gates in the airport. But will this new feature be all that convenient in day-to-day life? Failing to take a security-recognised selfie in a supermarket queue won’t make you popular with shoppers, especially those used to speeding through the checkout thanks to contactless payments.

“The success of this new technology will depend greatly on user experience. In order to win over users, Mastercard’s app needs to run invisibly and be ready to anticipate behaviour based on contextual data, such as the tilt of the phone. The technology will only catch on if customers feel comfortable enough to use the app, it feels intuitive and meets performance expectations.

“For Mastercard’s tech team, what the customer does before and after the payment is as important as the transaction itself. For example, if biometric fingerprint technology is used in conjunction with the selfie across a quick succession of bill payments, performance issues might arise. When an app packs in during the middle of a transaction, the customer is often left in the dark, and won’t know if the payment has gone through, causing more issues than the new feature sets out to solve.”

The technology is now being introduced across 12 markets in Europe – including the UK, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, following a series of successful trials in the Netherlands, the US, and Canada. The technology will be rolled out across the world in phases in 2017.


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