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Mastercard biometric programme will allow payment authentication by smile

Mastercard is inviting banks and merchants to join a programme to set standards for biometric payments technology

Mastercard has launched a programme to set standards for biometric payment authentication which promises to allow consumers to pay with a smile.

The card giant’s Biometric Checkout Program is a framework to set technology security and privacy standards for banks, merchants and technology providers developing biometric payment authentication services.

Mastercard is working with technology companies including NEC, Payface, Aurus, PaybyFace, PopID and Fujitsu.

“The way we pay needs to keep pace with the way we live, work and do business, offering choice to consumers with the highest levels of security,” said Ajay Bhalla, president, cyber and intelligence, at Mastercard. “Our goal with this new programme is to make shopping a great experience for consumers and merchants alike, providing the best of both security and convenience.”

Businesses taking part in the programme will be able to offer consumers biometric checkout services through an app. Biometric authentication is proven to be both effective and an acceptable additional step for consumers making payments.

HSBC said last year that telephone banking fraud reduced by 50% after the introduction of a biometric security system that authenticates customers by voice. About 2.8 million customers signed up to use its Voice ID system as demand for telephone banking increased during the pandemic. The bank estimates that the extra layer of security has prevented £249m of UK customers’ money falling into the hands of criminals in the past year.

Meanwhile, Mastercard cited research from Idemia which found that 74% of consumers have a positive attitude towards biometric technology.

Mastercard is running its first pilot in Brazil with biometric technology company Payface and supermarket chain St Marche. Payface’s technology will be used across five St Marche supermarkets in São Paulo. Participating consumers will enrol their face and payment information through the Payface app and then simply smile to pay at the checkout without a card or mobile device.  

Future pilots are planned in the Middle East and Asia.

“We’ve been developing Payface since 2018, with a mission to help transform the way people pay – improving the experience, without compromising on security,” said Eládio Isoppo, CEO of Payface. “This partnership with Mastercard is a welcome step forward for us and will enable our technology to be used by more merchants and consumers, making shopping easier and bringing the joy of a smile to payments.”

In 2017, Mastercard began using fingerprint-reading technology to make it easier for customers to make payments using their credit and debit cards. By January 2018, it set a deadline of April 2019 for widespread use of biometric identification for users of its service, claiming all of its customers would be able to use biometrics, including fingerprint and facial recognition.

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