MasterCard’s Pay With Your Face Pilot: Clearly A Longshot

by Tim Sloane 0

This article and video on Forbes web site actually discusses MasterCard’s experiments in several biometric technologies but the articles title and supporting video that features Karen Pascoe of MasterCard focuses on facial recognition:

“The card networks have to compete against non-use, which is where innovation comes in. In the latest salvo of convenience against cash, MasterCard is testing out a program that lets you buy with your face. You hold up your phone as if you were taking a selfie, and when you see your image inside of a circle, you blink once and that’s it. The technology is meant to answer the security question of “are you who you say you are” that bedevils merchants and card-issuing banks who have to bear the costs of identity fraud. A face is as strong as a fingerprint for identification, something that cannot be spoofed.
MasterCard’s Labs are playing around with a bunch of biometric technologies to replace passwords. Also in testing are voice recognition and a wristband that ID’s a cardholder by their heart beat. MasterCard is debuting the facial recognition test with a group of about 500 users this fall. Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft are said to be on board.”

It is wise for MasterCard to test multiple technologies, as it is unlikely facial recognition by itself, will suffice. It is more likely that identity will ultimately be determined utilizing the analysis of several factors, including geolocation over time and other biometrics that are minimally invasive or inconvenient.

Missing from a financial institutions perspective is a more general user authentication mechanism, one that doesn’t support just the card payment network, but can be used across all of the banking channels and points of consumer interaction. Such a solution is unlikely to come from the card networks which have a very specific use case they need to solve for.

Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group

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