Mastercard announced at the Mobile World Congress tech show in Barcelona this week that from this summer it will be accepting selfies or fingerprints as an alternative to passwords to verify IDs for online payments.
The software that will enable this to happen is a downloadable biometrics app for PC, tablet or smartphone that uses the camera (for a selfie) or a fingerprint sensor for recognition.
Cutting Fraud Compared to Passwords
As well as the notion that biometric security measures are likely to be more effective at cutting fraud, the system has been developed because consumers are known to dislike having to use passwords. The most common password for example is password is 123456 which is likely to be relatively easy for determined fraudsters to obtain. There is the added risk with passwords that in order to aid human memory and recall many people tend to use the same password in multiple places. This means that if hackers can obtain your password in one place it can leave you open to multiple fraud risks.
Early research by Mastercard has shown that not only is the system likely to provide good levels of security, but it is preferred to passwords by 92% of subjects who have been involved in Mastercard’s tests of the system.
Summer Rollout the UK
The rollout for the system is reported to be taking place in the UK this summer as well as in the US and Canada, and across Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
Not A Replacement For Normal Security Measures Yet
The new selfie / fingerprint verification system will not however be replacing the normal Mastercard verification system just yet. Mastercard customers will still need to provide their credit card details in the normal way as the primary means. On occasions where further authentication is required the current method is to ask for selected characters from the password, and it is at this point where the selfie or fingerprint will be requested. Customers using the selfie method will be asked to blink while looking into their camera so that the system can recognise them as a real person rather than just a photo of a face.
Reducing the Cost of Online Payments
It is hoped that the greater security provided by this kind of biometric mechanism can bring savings for merchants and consumers as credit card companies may no longer need to build as many extra costs in to the prices for transactions to cover fraud.
Biometric Systems Getting More Popular
The popular use of Biometric systems is now on the increase. Examples include the OS for Microsoft’s Windows 10 and Google’s Android allowing users to unlock devices by looking at their cameras, and the Smart wallet systems from Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay that allow customers to use their fingerprints to authorise payments.