Economy, Sci & Tech

MasterCard to Use Selfie Security

MasterCard to Use Selfie SecurityMasterCard to Use Selfie Security

MasterCard will start experimenting with a new program by approving online purchases with a facial scan.

At checkout, customers will be asked to hold up their phone and take a photo. MasterCard's thinking? It's easier than remembering a password.

"The new generation, which is into selfies will find it cool," said Ajay Bhalla, who is in charge of coming up with innovative solutions for MasterCard's security challenges.

This is MasterCard's way of cutting down fraud.

Currently, customers can set up something called "SecureCode," which requires a password when shopping online.

This stops credit-card-number-stealing hackers from actually using your card on the Web. It was used in three billion transactions last year, the company said.

But passwords get forgotten, stolen or intercepted. So, banks are following Apple's lead. The iPhone's fingerprint scanner started a security revolution in 2013. Apple Pay showed that customers are willing to use biometrics to prove their identity.

MasterCard will launch a small pilot program that uses fingerprints—but also facial scans. It will be a limited experiment involving 500 customers. But, once it works out all the kinks, MasterCard plans to launch it publicly sometime after that.

To pull this off, MasterCard said it has partnered with every smartphone maker. The credit card company is still finalizing deals with two major banks, so it was not ready to say whose customers will get this first. Bhalla promised that MasterCard will not be able to reconstruct a customers' face -- and that the information would transmit securely and remain safe on the company's computer servers. MasterCard is only at the testing phase, company representatives noted. It might end up keeping facial scans on the device in the long run.

Bhalla said MasterCard is also experimenting with voice recognition, so customers will be able to simply approve an online transaction by speaking on a cellphone.

MasterCard is also working with a Canadian firm, Nymi, to develop technology that will approve transactions by recognizing a persons' unique heartbeat.