Let Me Take a #Selfie: MasterCard Unveils Selfie Pay Abroad

by on Oct 05, 2016


Move over, The Chainsmokers. There’s a new #selfie game in town. Following limited tryouts in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands, MasterCard has released Identity Check Mobile in 12 European countries and plans to expand into the United States in the coming year. The new biometric service, more popularly known as selfie pay, allows users to use a selfie or fingerprint in lieu of a password or PIN when making a payment.

The launch is in line with industry trends toward employing biometrics for payment authentication, a practice that first gained widespread traction after the success of 2014’s Apple Pay and 2013’s Touch ID. While smartphone biometric authentication in those cases was limited to point of sale terminals, not online shopping, MasterCard found in its Dutch trials that 92% of Identity Check Mobile participants thought the service more convenient than passwords and 83% believed it more secure.

“We are relentlessly focused on making the online payment experience near frictionless, without making any compromises on safety and security,” Ajay Bhalla, president of Enterprise Risk & Security at MasterCard, said in a press release.

Currently, MasterCard card holders can enable a password-like SecureCode as an additional level of security when shopping online. Selfie pay will serve a similar function, requiring users to verify their identity before checkout, but without the hassle of having to keep up with multiple passwords or PINs, which MasterCard hopes will expedite online checkout.

Users must download the MasterCard app to use Identity Check Mobile, according to a CNN Money preview of the service. When users make a purchase, the app opens a pop-up asking them to authorize the payment either through fingerprint or facial recognition. To prevent fraud, the app, like USAA’s year-old facial recognition login process, requires users to blink when posing for the selfie to prove they’re human rather than a static image.

In the service’s October 4 press release, MasterCard claims that, unlike current cumbersome identity verification processes, Identity Check Mobile “dramatically [speeds] up the digital check out experience while also improving security.” Corporate Insight will continue to monitor the new service through its release abroad and domestically in 2017.