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October 4, 2016

MasterCard launches selfie biometric payments across Europe

Biometric security is seen as a way to reduce fraud.

By James Nunns

MasterCard has rolled out its selfie authentication technology across Europe.

Available in 12 European countries, including the UK, the Identity Check Mobile technology allows online shoppers to authenticate themselves with facial recognition and fingerprint scanning.

The technology had been on trial in the Netherlands, US, and Canada and will now be making an appearance in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.

Many consumers trust biometric security more than passwords.

Many consumers trust biometric security more than their traditional passwords.

What this means is that cardholders will no longer have to use passwords as these are replaced by biometrics.

Customers will be able to use the technology when they check-out at a retailer’s site, a pop-up will appear on the handset and they will be able to authorise the payment via fingerprint scan or selfie recognition.

Ajay Bhalla, president, enterprise risk and security, MasterCard, said: “This is a significant milestone in the evolution of payments. Shopping in person has been revolutionized 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 trial proved popular in the Netherlands where it was tested by 750 ABN Amro credit card users, with over three quarters responding that they would want to continue using the technology in order to complete payments in the future. Many (90%) wanted to replace their passwords with biometric verification definitively.

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Overall the users found that it made shopping more convenient and 75% believed that it would help to decrease fraud.

The use of this technology has long been in the mind of companies and more banks have been looking to deploy it. HSBC for example recently started to allow customers to use a selfie in order to open a bank account.

It is hoped that the technology will improve the user experience, increase security, and lower financial fraud.

Javvad Malik, Security Advocate at AlienVault said: “From a security viewpoint, financial fraud will never be completely eradicated, and increasing security too much will inconvenience users – so for banks it’s a fool’s errand. Rather, the controls needed should be sufficient to keep fraud within tolerances whilst providing customers with a convenient experience.

“This is where selfie pay seems like it is trying to bridge the gap between a fully authenticated method, such as chip and Pin – and an unauthenticated method such as contactless.

“The issues that are present are similar to any of the issues that exist with any biometric technology, in that there will be a number of questions users and privacy advocates will be asking. Such as how will the pictures be used; will they be saved? Will the data be shared with advertisers, or other online channels?”

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