Mobile Payment Systems are Taking Over

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Biometric authentication is poised to change mobile payment systems. Earlier this year, MasterCard announced their plans to roll out a mobile payment systems app, MasterCard Identity Check, allowing their cardholders to make payments using facial-recognition technology on their smartphones. That’s right – MasterCard is going to allow users pay with a selfie.

After a successful European pilot test, MasterCard will launch biometric authentication in the US and Canada later this summer. Of the 750 users who participated in the pilot test, 77% believed that selfie pay would reduce fraud and was the most secure way to make a mobile payment, and another 93% would use selfie pay again.

The MasterCard Identity Check mobile app will prompt users to:

  • Scan fingerprints or snap selfies to validate their identity; and,
  • Upon verification, return to the merchant site to complete their online purchase

On the heels of this announcement from MasterCard, Amazon also threw their hat into the ring and filed a patent application for this technology, where the user would be able to make purchases on Amazon by performing an action, like blinking, into a front-facing camera to verify that they are the true purchaser on the account.

Biometric authentication is being praised for its security. Amazon’s patent addresses the need for tighter security measures when it comes to one-click mobile payment systems that have risen in popularity. Passwords are easy to access, but facial recognition makes it nearly impossible for hackers to acquire your information from Amazon and other mobile shopping accounts.

Selfie payments are also hailed as convenient, which may appeal to consumers who frequently forget their passwords.

“People forget passwords, making the payment process unnecessarily long and complex so we expect that passwords will slowly become obsolete in favor of a more user-friendly alternative,” said International Card Service’s Andre Ijbema in a recent release.

Biometrics will continue to be adopted as a way to pay across the financial industry. Recent research suggests that there will be a whopping 770 million biometric authentication applications downloaded annually by 2019. Another study suggests that the worldwide mobile biometrics market will reach $3.5 billion by 2024, a massive increase from $259 million in 2015. So, if you’re one of those people who rolls your eyes every time you see someone take a selfie in public, you may want to reconsider your disposition.

Despite the anticipated success, however, there are concerns. Industry experts anticipate the need for well-developed industry standards surrounding biometrics. Personal information will be susceptible to attack if a protocol is not in place to ensure that only authorized users have abilities to access their accounts. Also, concerns need to be addressed when it comes to the intersection of mobile payment systems and phone security – it’s not all that uncommon for people to lose their phone, and any flaws in security could mean access to sensitive data and biometrics. Consider too how it stands currently – today, if your payment data is compromised, your bank works with you to address the breach; but in the case of a biometric breach, remediation of the issues may be more difficult.

All of this talk about easier ways to pay begs the question: is it really that difficult for consumers to remember their passwords? I might not always remember relatives’ birthdays or what I had for breakfast this morning, but just as I know my address, I commit to memory all of my passwords (yes, even the ones containing special characters and capital letters). Moreover, there are already easy-to-use technologies that exist that securely store passwords like fellow Chicago tech company, Keeper.

I will admit that I am a selfie stick owner (it’s my prerogative as a millennial, right?) and I’ve been known to snap the occasional selfie, but I am not sure I could take selfies in public to make a payment. Most of my personal mobile shopping occurs on my commute. I wonder what kinds of looks I might get on the train if I took to winking at the reflection on my phone.

How do you feel about biometric payments? Are you in the camp that would take a selfie to make a payment or do you find that your passwords are secure and keeping your information safe? Let us know – and learn more about our mobile payment solutions below.

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This post originally appeared on the author’s LinkedIn on May 5, 2016

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