Selfie-pay: the new form of payment authorisation?


The evolution of payments has been continual. Physical currency exchange turned to bank transfers, chip and pin changed to contactless and now password verification has morphed to visual verification.

The new visual (and fingerprint) payment authentication software can be downloaded on the Identity Check Mobile App.

Based on the trajectories of the other shifts in payment methods, a form of visual verification could soon be widespread, for online shopping at least.

Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security at Mastercard, said shopping had been “revolutionised” by contactless cards, mobile payments and wearable tech.

“We are relentlessly focused on making the online payment experience near frictionless, without making any compromises on safety and security,” he added. “This is a significant milestone in the evolution of payments.

>See also: Will behavioural biometrics in banking open the door for other industries?

The notion of taking a selfie to conclude a payment seems slightly absurd. But if you think about it presents a more secure and more efficient mode of verifying a person’s identity for their payments.

“The use of a selfie as an authentication mechanism may seem like something that a millennial cooked up whilst browsing Instagram one night,” said Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault. “However, payments have always been about risk management,” and these new technologies are more secure and time efficient.

The increased ease of purchasing ability, means that Mastercard expect sales to rise.

Yesterday the new service was released across 12 countries in Europe from today. Mastercard have said 92% of those who trialled the service preferred the new system to passwords.

Facial identification is a form of biometric security, and these technologies will become commonplace within the next 5 to 10 years for two reasons: technology is driving security there, and passwords are insecure.

>See also: Are the Brits too trusting of biometric security?

Robert Page, lead penetration tester at Redscan explained that “user passwords are typically the easiest point of attack in computer systems and this is driving increased adoption of biometric authentication systems”.

But, what if a person’s biometric information – picture or fingerprint – was obtained by a hacker? The account would be vulnerable and rectifying the situation would not be as easy as say, changing a password.

Page does note, however, that Mastercard’s facial recognition requires a user to blink to prevent others from taking an effective picture of a user. “The effectiveness of its implementation is yet to stand the test of time however.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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