We already have the fingerprint scanner to pay for goods, but new technology has been unveiled to create the ultimate security option – a selfie to replace a pin number!

Payments enabled by taking selfies.

This new technology, called MasterCard Identity Check, is great news for forgetful consumers, who struggle to remember pin numbers at the best of times, and opt for the same password for all their accounts.  In fact, studies have shown consumers, on average, enter their password eight times a day on 10 different accounts. This is particularly alarming as one in five people use the same password for all their accounts, with over half of consumers only slightly modifying their passwords for each account. 

First of all consumers wishing to use the face recognition ‘selfie’ method, must download the Identity Check Mobile App.  They can then purchase goods online, and when ready to pay, proceed to the payment screen, where they will have to enter their credit card details, prompting a message to be sent to their phone requesting verification of the transaction.  They are then asked to approve the transaction, at which point their face will appear on the screen asking them to blink.  The selfie is taken and the transaction processed. 

Simple as that…or is it?  Well the new system was rolled out in the Netherlands, US and Canada earlier this year and, following its massive success, is now being introduced across 12 countries in Europe – in fact studies have shown 92% of consumers prefer this method to a password!

Mastercard have claimed “selfies to kill off passwords within five years”.  Ajay Bhalla, President of Enterprise Risk and Security at Mastercard, said “We are relentlessly focused on making the online payment experience near frictionless, without making any compromises on safety and security," he added. "This is a significant milestone in the evolution of payments. We are making Identity Check Mobile a reality for online shopping in Europe and soon the world."

Which is good news for all concerned, as credit card fraud has cost banks millions of pounds every year, in fact the figure was estimated to be £755m last year, as reported by the Financial Fraud Action UK.  The problem is that once fraudsters have possession of our card details, either from phishing or simply taking the numbers from the card, they can go on a spending spree for as long as it takes us to realise what’s going on! New technology is long overdue, and banks can’t afford to let scammers to get away with this much longer.

French digital security company, Oberthur Technologies, have recently designed credit card technology called MotionCode that randomly generates a three digit security code on the back of a card that changes every hour, ensuring any previous codes to be useless!  It is powered by a tiny lithium battery that lasts three years.  What this means is that scammers stealing your card details, have a finite amount of time to use them, before they’re just a bunch of useless numbers.

The only obvious down side to using this type of card is for customers, who memorise all their card details, will not have that option, as the three digits continually change.  It could also be expensive to implement as retailers will be required to initially install the technology, and then there are additional support costs to ensure cards work simultaneously with the operator.

Is it all worth it?  Well yes, if last year’s statistics are anything to go by!  In 2015, it was reported that 20,255 customers in the UK were affected by credit card fraud, prompting banks to do something radical to stop it, or at the very least, reduce these figures, which are only going to increase.

Pilot schemes in France have inspired two of their largest banks, Société Générale and Groupe PBCE, to trial the cards with their customers.  And following on from that, Mexico and Poland are piloting the card next, with the Oberthur Techologies UK & Ireland operation hoping to follow their lead.

In the meantime, consumers must take extra precautions until technology eliminates the risk of credit card fraud.  We are advised to choose passwords unique to individual cards and change them regularly – and the obvious one: don’t reveal too much about yourself online!  Many of us willingly offer personal details when prompted, too often on websites we are unfamiliar with, which asks the question: what are they doing with that information?

Will it work?  We know that consumers hate passwords, most of which are not secure, so it seems selfies really could have another function, other than to satisfy the narcissistic amongst us…  Credit cards with flashing numbers on the reverse – really?  Well, as with all new technology, only time will tell, and fundamentally we all want the same thing…to keep our hard earned money safe, preferably away from the fraudsters!