- MasterCard is expected to roll out new biometric technologies such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanning as methods to verify customer identities during online shopping transactions, the Wall Street Journal reports.
- The credit card giant has been testing new software called Identity Check, which calls for shoppers to submit a selfie for facial recognition or a fingerprint through a MasterCard mobile app that authenticates the image. Consumers shopping via laptop or desktop computer would receive text messages on their smartphones asking them to submit the biometric data.
- Since unveiling Identity Check almost a year ago, MasterCard has tested the technology with banks including ABN AMRO Group in Amsterdam, Bank of Montreal in Canada and First Tech Federal Credit Union in Palo Alto, CA.
When MasterCard announced Identity Check last October, everyone was briefly giddy over the concept of paying for stuff with a selfie. Since then, a different kind of security chatter has grabbed retail industry headlines as the industry has begun to make some long-awaited progress implementing EMV chip cards and payment terminals to support more secure in-store transactions. However, even as retail makes progress with transaction security on the brick-and-mortar front, already leading to lower fraud, online card fraud continues to rise.
MasterCard's imminent launch of biometric measures for protecting online transactions should show retailers that it's trying to do something about the growing online fraud problem, and doing what it can to support a multi-layered security framework overall for all types of shopping transactions.
Of course, MasterCard is not the first company to pursue these measures, and in truth its hand has been forced by the likes of Apple Pay and PayPal — alternative payments enablers that have been supporting some level of biometric security for a while. Also, Alibaba's Ant unit just acquired a company with another form of biometric technology — eye-scanning — which should increase security for Alipay and other Alibaba endeavors. But for biometric security to have a truly broad effect against online fraud, we need to see the traditional card payment companies adopt it, too.
Overall, this is a good, necessary move by MasterCard, and maybe it will divert the retail industry's attention from an ongoing dispute related to EMV card security. Retailers continue to argue that card companies are getting in the way of EMV cards being as effective as possible by requiring signatures for verification in some cases, rather than more secure PIN codes. At least MasterCard can't mitigate the effectiveness of a selfie, right?