MasterCard is testing selfies to replace passwords for online payments

MasterCard is testing a new facial recognition technology that would let customers to authenticate themselves by taking a selfie.

Financial organizations are working to increase the efficiency of authentication processes and at the same time to improve the users’ experience.

The majority of the financial organization are looking with interest to biometric, a recent survey conducted with UK consumers revealed that 24% of them agree to share DNA data with their banks to implement a secure authentication.

Mastercard is working to use selfies as instead of passwords to make online transactions.

According to the Daily Telegraph, users can make purchases by taking a selfie using a mobile app developed by Mastercard. The use of the selfies aims to replace SecureCode system currently adopted by MasterCard to verify the identity of its customers while shopping online. Today users have to enter a password at the point of sale to validate the transaction and proceed at the checkout.


On the technical point of view, the mobile app is able to convert the selfie into a unique binary string by exploiting facial recognition technology. The verification is made by comparing this string with a stored code held by Mastercard. If the two codes match up, then the transaction will be authorized by Mastercard.

Mastercard is currently testing the selfie based authentication with a group of 500 consumers, the intent is to gradually extend it to other customers of the financial institution.

The company is also testing other authentication methods, including fingerprint scanning and voice recognition.

“We want to identify people for who they are, not what they remember,” said MasterCard executive Ajay Bhalla in an interview with CNN Money. “We have too many passwords to remember and this creates extra problems for consumers and businesses. The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it.”

Pierluigi Paganini

July 6, 2015

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