MasterCard to replace passwords with selfies for online payments

MasterCard to replace passwords with selfies for online payments

This article first appeared on CNBC's MasterCard to replace passwords with selfies.

MasterCard customers will soon be able to replace their passwords with a "selfie" and a fingerprints to verify their identity and make payments online.

The payment processing company confirmed the decision to introduce biometric checks this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Ann Cairns, head of international markets for MasterCard, told CNBC that biometric checks had been trialled in the US and the Netherlands and will be launching them in the UK soon.

"I think the whole biometric space is a great way of protecting yourself when you are doing payments," she said. "There are a whole range of biometrics that say 'I'm me, I'm making a payment' and it just makes the whole thing more secure."

Biometric solutions could include facial recognition, fingerprint scanners or checking the customer's heartbeat using wearable technology such as smartwatches.

The company first revealed the MasterCard Identity Check system in October last year as part of its commitment to improve online payment security.

The system could lead to increased online sales as passwords are replaced with a more convenient solution. According to a survey by MasterCard, 53 per cent of shoppers forget passwords at least once a week, wasting more than 10 minutes to reset their accounts and leading to a third of shoppers abandoning their purchase.

"People shop on all sorts of devices, and they expect technology to simplify and secure the transaction," said Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard, in a press release. "This is exactly what Identity Check delivers."

Cairns added that the checks could help people in developing markets who may not have official documents of identification.

"If you think about some of the things we've rolled out in some emerging markets, in places like Africa, where people don't have identities because they don't maybe have passports or driving licences, then biometric authentication is a way of saying 'I'm me'" she said.

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