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Are Selfies the Future of Payment Technology?

selfie payments

When you think of selfies, an image of a teenage girl making the classic "duck face" might be what pops into your head. However, it may be time to start taking selfies more seriously. Why? Because they could be the future of payment technology. Thanks to MasterCard, the days of credit card theft may soon be a thing of the past. 

MasterCard uses selfies to make credit payments safer

Ajay Bhalla, president of safety and security at the American financial services company MasterCard, told CNN that later this year, MasterCard will start testing a new software that recognizes faces to ensure that the card holders are the ones making purchases. The pilot will start with around 500 people who will use the new software for a few months to see how effective it is at reducing fraud.

The way it will work is simple and will likely appeal to the millennial generation of consumers. This is largely due to the fact that the system combines two of America's favorite pastimes -  mobile apps and selfies. MasterCard has partnered with every smartphone company to ensure that, if successful, all users will be able to take advantage of the new selfie security system. 

"Today's consumers are connected - our mobile phones are our best friend," Jennifer Stalzer, vice president of Global Digital Communications at MasterCard, said in an email, according to CBS News. "As the digital and physical worlds continue to converge, we see biometric-based payment security becoming commonplace. We believe the millennial generation in particular will relate to this technology and will embrace it."

What to expect

The MasterCard users will have to download the new smartphone app. Whenever they're checking out at a store or during an online transaction, a message will pop up asking them to verify that the card is theirs. To do so, they can choose between scanning their fingerprints or taking a selfie through the app. 

If consumers do decide to take the selfie, they have to stare at the camera and blink once. MasterCard explained that they require people to blink so that thieves aren't able to hold up a photograph of the actual card holder to trick the company. The facial recognition system then maps out the user's face and converts it to code before sending the information over to MasterCard.

The company wanted to make this clear to assure consumers that MasterCard isn't actually receiving pictures, which may have made potential users who were concerned with their privacy hesitant to try the new system. The fingerprint scan will work similarly, creating a single code associated with the customer's fingerprint and saving it to the mobile device. Despite privacy concerns, many businesses seem to trust Mastercard's process.

"They're storing an algorithm, not a picture of you. And I'm sure they're doing the appropriate stuff to guard it," Phillip Dunkelberger, owner of Nok Nok Labs, a company that creates technology that authenticates people, told CNN.

Bhalla noted that if the pilot program is successful, the next step will be voice recognition so people can approve transactions by simply speaking into their phones. If you thought that's impressive, MasterCard has also partnered with a Canadian firm, Nymi, to begin the development of software that will be able to approve purchases by recognizing a person's unique heartbeat.

If you believe your customers will benefit from the new system, your small business may soon be able to implement the software at the end of the pilot program. In addition to reducing fraud, the new app may be just what your company needs to increase sales and start seeing some small business growth.

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