Mastercard to trial credit card authentication with selfies

Credit card

Mastercard is set to launch an app that will verify online purchases by making users take a selfie.

The biometric facial recognition software could replace PINs, according to MasterCard chief product security officer, Ajay Bhalla.

He told CNN Money that his firm had partnered with Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft and Blackberry to develop the biometric app. It also said it was finalising deals with two banks.

"The new generation, which is into selfies ... I think they'll find it cool. They'll embrace it," he said. He added that the app would "seamlessly integrate" biometrics with the overall payment "experience".

"You can choose to use your fingerprint or your face you tap it, the transaction is okayed and you're done," he added.

At the moment, customers of the credit card firm use a password system called SecureCode to verify purchases on a card. But this new system, dubbed ID Check, digitises the face and converts that image into a hash that then compares with a hash stored on Mastercard's infrastructure.

Bhalla said the company would not be able to recreate a face from the data held on servers.

The app on the phone can be activated by staring into the phone and blinking once. The blinking is hoped by the firm as a way to prevent someone from just holding up a photograph of someone's face.

Mastercard intends to pilot the app with 500 cardholders in the US, with plans to take it worldwide if successful. The firm is also experimenting with voice recognition and even heartbeat recognition as well.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.