MasterCard caused a stir a few weeks ago by announcing a September 2015 trial release of its new online payment method: the selfie. An initial group of 500 customers will test the system this autumn, in yet another show of creativity from the banking sector, where innovations keep multiplying.
Paying with a selfie?
The idea sounds simple enough: using facial recognition to authenticate customers when they make remote payments. The technology builds on two recent trends: multipurpose smartphones and the use of biometric data to secure transactions.
In practice, whenever a customer wants to pay online, they open a dedicated app and direct their smartphone camera towards their face – just as if they were taking a selfie. The final step is to blink (which prevents anyone from attempting to use a photo to steal their identity). The system will then compare the selfie with the reference photo provided by the user during activation. If the system recognizes the face, it will process the payment.
Biometric data seems ideal to secure transactions as it’s unique to every person and impossible to forge. Banks are already thinking up plenty of innovative ways to use biometrics which would help their customers avoid memorizing passwords and PIN codes. Some banks are currently assessing or testing new fingerprint and iris recognition technologies, voice recognition systems and even authentication by heartbeat analysis!
Of course, plenty of questions remain to be answered. Will voice recognition still work when a customer gets a sore throat? Can customers still provide a fingerprint if they cut their fingertip?
Banks innovate to adapt payments to everyday uses
Though these new technologies have yet to prove their value, the banking sector is still finding ways to improve payments.
Contactless payment by card or smartphone, for instance, is becoming increasingly popular with customers. To the point that several public transit network begin to implement it as in London. Talk about “mobile” payments!
BNP Paribas is also showcasing its capacity for innovation with Mobo, a tool which transforms any smartphone into a checkout counter. First offered to craftsmen and independent professionals as a way to accept credit and debit card payments, Mobo is now available to all types of businesses. Technicians and sales teams now have a reliable, practical, portable and light payment system at their disposal, both in and out of the store.
Until customers can pay for everything with a selfie, both Mobo and contactless payments are in high demand. Because for customers, the revolution is about making life easier.