You have seen people taking pictures with their phones. You might have seen people catching Pokémon with their phones. But have you seen people blinking, or shaking their head at a phone?
That’s how your mobile banking app will be able to recognize you when MasterCard rolls out its biometric authentication program worldwide, as early as the beginning of 2017.
On Tuesday, MasterCard launched its Identity Check mobile app in 12 European countries including the U.K., allowing consumers there to use fingerprints or facial recognition – instead of passwords – to verify their identity when shopping online.
Where you previously would input your password, the app allows you to log in simply by putting your finger on your smartphone fingerprint scanner (usually the home-screen button) — or by taking a photo of your face.
The technology will most likely debut in the U.S. on existing mobile banking apps offered by commercial banks and credit unions, says Bob Reany, MasterCard’s executive vice president of identity solutions, although it’s unclear which financial institutions will adopt the feature. And even if your banking app doesn’t use “Selfie Pay”, he says you can download MasterCard’s own app on your Apple, BlackBerry, Google, Microsoft and Samsung device.
Reany says biometric authentication is safer and more convenient than passwords.
“We were finding that there’s a lot of frustration and friction with passwords…that’s getting in the way of people using digital payment,” he says. “We want to make it so that you never have to remember anything.”
In Canada and the U.S., MasterCard tested the new way to identify cardholders in two pilot programs in February and March with a total of 400 employees at Bank of Montreal and Silicon Valley-based First Tech Federal Credit Union.
From those two, plus other trials in the Netherlands, MasterCard modified the product based on customers’ responses. While taking selfies are almost second nature to millennials, the experiments found some consumers struggling to press the picture-taking button while holding the phone away.
No problem. The “Selfie Pay” app will snap the picture after you blink or shake your head. That way, others can’t hold your picture up and pretend to be you, MasterCard says.
The app will then compare the picture with stored algorithms of your face to identify you. Reany says all pictures taken on the device stay on the device, and the company only saves rigorous math of minutia and measurements of your key figures.
“We really don’t have the desire to store a bunch of pictures of people,” he says.