MasterCard invests in selfie payment technology (Video)

MasterCard is set to test a new form of facial recognition software, allowing customers to pay for items by taking a selfie on their smartphone.

Over 500 participants will be able to make contactless transactions by holding their smartphone up to their face, with MasterCard’s new technology set to rival Google’s facial detection service.

‘‘The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it,’’ commented Ajay Bhalla, chief product security officer, MasterCard

Google bosses are already fearing the extra competition, admitting that their own biometric technology is ‘‘less secure than a pattern, PIN or password.’’ One security expert feels that Google has a long way to go before its facial recognition software becomes fully secure.

Ken Munro, security researcher at Pen Test Partners is well aware of the security problems that Google face, telling the BBC that the technology company ‘‘tried facial recognition on Android phones and there were a lot of problems in the early days.’’

‘‘People realised you could take a photo of somebody and present it to the camera, and the phone would unlock.’’

‘‘People took photographs and animated them, drawing eyelids on. There have been advances in biometrics since then, but they’re not quite there yet.’’

User’s trialling MasterCard’s new app will be asked to blink during the payment process to prove that they are human, but Munro suggests that the card firm will struggle to weed out fraudsters who hope to take advantage of its biometric technology.

‘‘MasterCard will want this to be secure because they’re dealing with money. But there is a case for adding extra layers of security.’’

‘‘If an ordinary password gets compromised you can simply revoke it or change it. What happens if your facial recognition data gets stolen? You can’t change your face.’’

MasterCard customers currently use SecureCode to make online purchases, software that the card firm hopes to replace with this new selfie technology.

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