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November 13, 2014

MasterCard and Visa to alleviate “password fatigue”

Static passwords to be abolished in favour of fingerprints, voices and even heart rhythms.

By Jimmy Nicholls

MasterCard and Visa are abolishing passwords for online payments, as they look to introduce new security measures to replace the aging authentication process.

The card companies will replace the static password with fingerprint credentials and passwords that expire after one use, amid implementation of "invisible authentication" and the reduction of password prompts through the use of behavioural data.

Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard, said: "We want to identify people for who they are, not what they remember. We have too many passwords to remember and this is creates extra problems for consumers and businesses."

MasterCard expects to introduce the scheme next year, and will test facial and voice recognition apps as part of the new standard. This is in addition to a wristband that authenticates users based on their unique heart rhythm.

It plans to transfer these changes to payments through mobile devices, an emerging trend in the technology industry that has been boosted in recent months following Apple’s decision to enter the market.

Philip Turner, VP of EMEA at the identity management firm Okta, said the move would be welcomed by customers, many of whom suffer from "password fatigue".

"Not surprisingly, multi-factor authentication- which requires two or more factors to verify legitimacy of the user – has taken off and evolved pretty substantially in the past decade," he said. "We’re now seeing authentication methods becoming as personalised and specific to the individual as the experiences they’re trying to access."

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