MasterCard “selfie pay” system is letting users authorize payments with a quick portrait pic
There’s no shortage of ways to authenticate yourself to a smartphone: PIN, pattern, password, fingerprint, trusted device … the list goes on and on. What sounds like one of the most straightforward – but in practice has proven enormously difficult to get right – is an image-based unlock: after all, our phones have cameras, so why can’t they just take a pic and recognize us? We’ve come a long way from Android’s old face unlock in Ice Cream Sandwich, and more robust systems like Windows Hello and its iris scanning have arrived to give us new hope. Apparently, the tech has come so far that it’s now being relied on to even authorize payments, and this week we hear about MasterCard’s plans to roll out its “selfie pay” system to a number of new nations.
As that label implies, MasterCard allows users to authorize online payments by means of a facial scan conducted by their smartphone. The system generates an algorithmic map of the users face, rather than directly storing a photo, and compares that to a previously authenticated hash value.
Following initial tests in the US and the Netherlands, MasterCard is looking to bring the system to 14 more nations by sometime this summer.
Beyond this facial-ID tech, MasterCard has been experimenting with other authentication schemes, including one that could gather biometric data from a heart rate monitor – but there’s no word on when anything like that may be ready for prime time.