You will soon be able to pay with a selfie!

7 Aaron Falloon


MasterCard iscurrently working on two new “cool” means of payment; the first one is a fingerprints recognition system and the second is a face recognition system. Both could be used to verify online transactions.

Officially those two novelties were created for the sake of safety, starting from the observation that “people tend to forget their passwords or write them down anywhere”. But with these two funny gadgets, it seems clear that MasterCard wishes to attract the new generation:

The new generation, which is into selfies… I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it” – Ajay Bhalla, security expert at MasterCard.

When will it be released?

The company intends to test its app on 500 pilot users at first before launching it. Those tests should be implemented within the next few months and allow the selected users to test the app in real conditions. The app will not be available to the public until next year.

How does it work?

When buying a product, a pop-up will ask the user to confirm the transaction using one of the two options (fingerprint or facial recognition). The users who choose facial recognition will then have to look at the camera and blink once. In order for the technology to be accessible to the greatest number, MasterCard has partnered with every smartphone maker.

What about privacy?

If you are worried that some people could see your selfies, you can be assured that your picture will actually not be sent over the network but be converted into a cipher instead. In simple terms, your face will be scanned and mapped before being converted to 1s and 0s.

Is it really safe?

For those who fear that a thief might use a picture of themselves to fool the system, MasterCard has planned a safety measure: the app requires you to blink one time in order for the payment to be confirmed.

However, even this kind of measure can be and has already been spoofed in the past. It is indeed possible to animate pictures by drawing eyelids on for instance.

Moreover, what would happen if your facial recognition data gets stolen? If it is quite easy to change a password, it is certainly harder to change your face.

Therefore, in order to be really safe, we think that it would perhaps be better to use this technology as a complement to a Pin, as an extra layer of security.

Other payments of the Future

MasterCard does not intend stopping there and keeps dedicating whole teams to work on recognition technologies. The banking giant is also working on voice and heartbeat recognition through wearable wristbands. Voice recognition would for instance allow users to approve online transactions by simply speaking to their phone.