Selfies As Payments

by Raymond Pucci 0

From cash to cards to phones, the latest payment method hitting the market could be a selfie. Or facial recognition, anyway. That’s what being tested now as the following article describes.

Sometimes big companies make big decisions for us. As MasterCard and Amazon will both be incorporating further biometrics into their verification and payment systems, and as Google rolls out its Hands Free program, Apple is rumored to be keeping pace. Those further biometrics include, but are not limited to, eye- and facial-recognition capabilities — which, in effect, means you’ll need to get used to posing for selfies.

Hands Free will not make you take selfies, but it will employ facial recognition. In one instantiation, your mobile device communicates with the participating store’s (now-defunct) cash register. After completing your order, you merely say “I’ll pay with Google.”

The “cashier” then sees your Hands Free profile picture and verifies that it’s really you — and that’s it. In the other instantiation, the vendor will have a facial recognition camera and system that scans your face, compares it with your profile picture’s biometrics, then verifies your identity. (This tech is now live in — where else — select parts of San Francisco.

At the moment, you can only use it at participating McDonald’s and Papa John’s stores.)
As for Apple, rumors abound. Ming-Chi Kuo, a KGI Securities researcher renowned as an Apple prophet, says that the iPhone 7 will be able to recognize you in all your glory.
These rumors gain some traction, albeit limited tracking, with Apple’s latest intellectual property acquisitions. Earlier this year, Apple acquired a facial- and emotion-recognition start-up called Emotient.

Biometrics have been used for a while as identification in high security access locations. Maybe the only surprise is that this technology has taken longer to arrive as a consumer payment method. Most of the big tech companies have been active in this pursuit, albeit in a more secret way, especially Apple. So no need for a card or phone—just show your smiling face to buy that morning cup of coffee.

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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