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MasterCard wants you to take more selfies- but only when you buy something.

The global payments brand is in the process of testing a new biometrics security system that relies on facial recognition. With the help of Google, BlackBerry, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, the company is piloting a trial composed of 500 participants to see if it will catch on.

“When consumers shop on the Internet, their banks need ways to verify their identities. So this particular product seamlessly integrates biometrics into the overall payments experience,” said Ajay Bhalla, a security expert at MasterCard.

“The new generation, which is into selfies, I think they’ll find it cool—they’ll embrace it.”

Facial recognition system

How Does It Work?

Verifying your identity using MasterCard’s facial recognition platform only takes a few minutes. When making a payment, the system will display two options, fingerprint scanning and facial detection. After choosing the latter, the app will activate your smartphone camera.

During the verification stage, the system will prompt you to blink once. This is to ensure that a criminal is not using a printed photo to bypass the security measure. Those who are concerned about having their photo saved to the cloud should not be worried. The system does not actually save an image of your face. Instead, it creates a special map of your features and turns it into code. MasterCard will only let you finish the payment when it is sure that both (the facial code saved in the system and the code extracted from the live shot) are a complete match.

To maintain the quality of the checkout experience, the company will likely set restrictions on smartphone specifications and compatibility. High-end devices with sharp cameras shouldn’t have an issue with the feature.

It Could Get Old Really Fast

Financial institutions are constantly thinking of new ways to boost payments security. At the moment, passwords just aren’t cutting it. People make them too easy to guess, and hackers are equipped with effective tools that can quickly expose such preventive measures.

Is facial recognition the answer to the world’s growing security dilemma? Maybe not.

The ones that are currently available for offices and smartphones are painstakingly slow. If you’re a frequent online shopper, you could be better off using the fingerprint scanning option. The idea of taking a selfie to clear a payment is fun, but the feature lacks convenience and usability.

Alibaba Jack Ma

Alibaba Is Working on a Similar Identity Verification System

Alibaba, a leading Chinese e-commerce brand, is developing a facial security system that is almost identical to MasterCard’s platform. Called “Smile to Pay”, the company hopes to roll out the option to its 400 million active users on the Alipay mobile app.

“[Using] online payments to buy things is always a big headache,” mentioned Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba. “You forget your password, you worry about security. Today we’ll show you a new technology, how in the future people will buy things online.”

Ma demonstrated the feature during a keynote speech at CeBit conference in Germany. A release date for the tech giant’s facial security platform is still unknown.

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