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February 22, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 5:01pm

Pout and pay: MasterCard app lets you buy online with a selfie

News: MasterCard embraces biometric security - is this the end for passwords?

By Ellie Burns

You either love them or loathe them, but now you can buy online with a selfie.

MasterCard has today rolled out an app which allows users to verify online payments with a selfie photo or a fingerprint.

Announced at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), users will still have to provide their banking details as normal when making an online purchase.

However, if a further authentication check is required, users with the app will be asked to submit a fingerprint using their phone’s sensor, or look at their camera to submit a selfie. If the selfie option is chosen, the user will have to blink into the camera to prove they are not holding up a photo.

MasterCard Identity Check app

This follows a recent trend of biometric adoption, with HSBC recently launching voice and touch ID biometric security for the 15 million UK customers who use online banking.

Many experts are welcoming the move away from traditional password use, with Raj Samani, CTO of Intel Security, saying: "The news that MasterCard will bring facial recognition payment services to the UK is much welcome.

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"In today’s technology driven world, it’s about time passwords caught up and evolved with it, because the reality is there have been many developments in the security industry that don’t rely on consumer memory to keep information secure anymore – one being biometric security.

"Biometrics removes the need for users to resort to writing their passwords in notebooks where they can easily be stolen or copied. Instead, consumers are safe in the knowledge that their own personal characteristics are keeping them safe."

However, although security experts sing the praises of biometric security, consumers been wary following reports that facial scans and fingerprint sensors can be compromised.

However, MasterCard ensures that its other security measures should be able to recognise and prevent suspicious behaviour. Additional reassurance was given by MasterCard who said that facial scans and fingerprint data will not be transmitted in a way which could be hacked, stolen or compromised.

Although there have been some concerns regarding biometric security, Paco Garcia, CTO at Yoti, believes that biometrics will soon become the norm as consumers realise the benefits and ease of biometric authentication.

"MasterCard’s announcement is part of a larger movement towards allowing people to prove who they are, simply by taking a selfie. By offering an alternative to the hassle of remembering passwords and usernames, they are making their customers’ lives easier and more secure.

"The key challenge for any of the selfie authentication solutions we are seeing emerge at the moment is ensuring the right live person is in front of their phone." Garcia said.

MasterCard plans to roll out the Identity Check app this summer, with plans to introduce the technology to the UK, US, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.


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