Although online payments have existed for quite some time now, mobile payments started becoming popular only over the last few years. This idea of paying for your goods with your cell phone is becoming much more widespread largely due to the consumer’s need for greater convenience. This trend has been further boosted by the launch of popular mobile payment apps such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Wallet. People now use apps to pay for almost everything – groceries, clothes, utility bills, restaurant bills etc.
What is the current scenario in mobile payments?
The main concept behind mobile payments is to replace the traditional debit or credit with smartphones. The authentication of credit or debit card payments usually requires the customer to enter a password or PIN. It is no secret that conventional username and password login systems are depreciating.
Hackers can easily crack password using techniques such as brute-force. People not only have to deal with the constant threat of digital identity theft but are also concerned about sensitive information being stolen from hacked company websites. Moreover the fact that users continue to re-use passwords across multiple sites creates further vulnerability. One password leak at a site leaves many more sensitive accounts that share the same credentials open to attack.
Biometric measures bypass passwords and therefore this kind of security mechanism is on the rise. A report by Juniper Research in 2016 listed biometrics as the top most technology to transform eCommerce. Another study by Visa reported that over two thirds of European customers want to use biometric methods when making payments. Current mobile payment apps such as Apple Pay utilize the near field communication (NFC) technology in customer’s smartphones along with their fingerprints to authenticate purchases.
Therefore, the adoption of mobile payment is on the rise and so are the biometric technologies for enhancing security and creating customer convenience. But just in case fingerprint recognition technology wasn’t enough, Master Card is now taking mobile payments one step further with its sophisticated facial recognition software to approve online purchases.
What is ‘Pay with Selfie’?
Selfies for securing mobile payments might sound a bit dreamy as it is mostly associated with a popular pastime for many individuals i.e. taking a selfie for uploading to their social media accounts. But pay with selfie is slowly gaining traction in mobile banking as a new approach to online digital identification.
Many big providers and e-commerce giants have expressed interest in selfie payment. MasterCard recently unveiled its plans to simplify and enhance the shopping experience for its cardholders by enabling them to verify their purchases using a photo of their face i.e. selfie instead of passwords. As compared to the conventional username and password login combination, pay with selfie approach offers a far more convenient method to sign-in and also enables a faster checkout process.
Lloyds Banking Group is also in the process of rolling out selfie-based authentication technology for online account set-ups. When customers apply to open a current account with Bank of Scotland, they are invited to submit copy of their UK driving license or passport along with selfie images for confirming their identity.
HSBC is also giving similar options to businesses for completing identity verification checks on a mobile device using selfie-based verification technique. E-commerce giant Amazon has reportedly filed a patent for pay with selfie. Alibaba is also working with MasterCard to incorporate selfie payments in transaction confirmations.
How would selfie payments work?
MasterCard’s selfie pay program is known as Identity Check and provides users the option of verifying their purchases either with fingerprint or photo of their face. Recent reports indicate that this program will be rolled out by major banks in the US, UK, Canada and some other European countries over the next few months. The credit card company has also partnered with major smartphone companies such as Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft and Blackberry in order to ensure that its app will work correctly on all mobile devices.
In order to use the selfie authentication option, the users are first required to install MasterCard’s app on their smartphone and upload a photo in order to provide the company with their facial biometric. This photo is then converted into a binary string with the help of facial recognition technology.
For all future payments, the user simply needs to snap a quick selfie and if it matches with the original upload the payment is authorized. This authentication mechanism ensures better security as it identifies people based on who they are (face) and not what they remember (passwords). For every online purchase, the user’s face is scanned which undoubtedly proves that the authorized individual is making the purchase and not some hackers or thieves. The same cannot be guaranteed for passwords as they can be easily stolen, shared or hacked.
Furthermore, the app requires the customer to blink to prove that an actual photograph of the user is being taken and not some fraudster holding an old photo in front of the camera. According to MasterCard, this blink is much harder to forge which makes it extremely secure and authentic. The company also insists that there are security checks in place to detect any suspicious behavior. These checks can determine the user’s location and where the purchase is being shipped to.
In a world where selfie sticks and smartphones are extremely popular, it is very likely that there will be many who would like to embrace this new way of making payments.