MasterCard Says It Will Use Selfies to Replace Passwords

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2016-02-25 Print this article Print

Double biometric checks already have been tested in the U.S. and the Netherlands. The company will be launching them in the U.K. soon.

Every security provider would like to find a replacement for passwords, which can easily be forgotten and are too often stolen, hacked and otherwise abused by bad actors.

MasterCard thinks that faces and fingerprints can't easily be stolen, forgotten, hacked and otherwise abused quite as much as passwords, and it's probably right. With this in mind, the credit card company has announced that its customers will soon be able to replace their passwords with a selfie and a fingerprint to verify their identity to make payments online.

That's a new biometric angle to two-factor authentication. The payment processing company confirmed its decision to introduce these checks on Feb. 23 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Ann Cairns, head of international markets for MasterCard, told CNBC that the double biometric checks already have been tested in the U.S. and the Netherlands. She said the company will be launching them in the U.K. soon.

"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 licenses, then biometric authentication is a way of saying 'I'm me'," Cairns said.

Biometric solutions currently in the market include facial recognition and scans of corneas or fingerprints. Checking a customer's heartbeat using wearable technology, such as smartwatches, is also being tested.

MasterCard revealed its Identity Check system last October as part of an initiative to improve security of its online payment process.

According to a survey the company took, 53 percent 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.


Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz


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