Credit Card Payments with Your Face

By: Robert Siciliano  |  August 18, 2015


Coming this fall, MasterCard will be implementing facial recognition technology: You’ll be able to make credit card payments by holding up your phone and blinking—whether the purchase is online or at a brick-and-mortar store. The blinking will ensure that thieves won’t try to use a photo of your face to make purchases.

Older folks (40 and up…maybe 30, even) may not find this alluring, but young adults are expected to find this to be quite rad.

Of course, another generation from now, it will be run-of-the-mill, just like signing a slip of paper or one of those inkless gadgets has been routine for years. Needless to say, facial recognition is much more secure than signatures.

MasterCard will kick off this feature with 500 cardholders, but eventually the company will offer it to everyone. And also look for voice recognition and fingerprint recognition as other options.

Here’s how it works:

  • Download the MasterCard phone application.
  • For online purchases, once you get to the “checkout,” you’ll be prompted to hold your smartphone up and take the photo (with a blink)—i.e., a selfie. (You’ll also have the choice to use a fingerprint.)
  • This is much easier than remembering the password you’d otherwise have to type in.
  • Even if you can remember a password, it can be stolen or intercepted.
  • MasterCard won’t get an actual photo of your face, however, when you verify your identity at checkout. The facial recognition scan will convert the image to ones and zeros and send this to MasterCard.
  • MasterCard will not be able use this binary system to reconstruct your face.

It’s believed that biometric options will be warmly received by many consumers. So after the pilot program involving the 500 cardholders, MasterCard will publicly launch this option (and by then, will have worked out any bugs in the technology).

Facial recognition will be available for every smartphone company, such as Blackberry, Apple and Google.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing identity theft prevention.

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